the importance of validation (a short story)


There's a fire!

You're overreacting. What's wrong with you? There's no fire.

Um, there's a fire here!

You're crazy! Just blow it out! (Just stop!)

(after many cycles of being invalidated)

Okay, there's no fire. (What's wrong with me?)

Good job! I told you!


Fire! Fire! Fire!

Oh no! What can I do to help?


Just a simple change of phrasing can stop your loved one from spiraling. 

They don't need you tell them they're crazy.

Trust me, they already think they are.

They don't need to be told to "just stop."

Like it's a switch they turned on for fun.

(This is not fun.)

You may not understand the "fire", but lucky for you, validating is not agreeing.

It's coming to their level.

Seeing them where they are and asking what they need to move forward.

You're not being asked to fix anything.

They need to know they aren't alone and you'll love them through this.


friday joys


all white bedrooms. my hair finally getting long again. being understood. cult documentaries. the inventor of FaceTime. ogre ears (the plant kind.) karaoke. my remy girl. first day of school pictures. gapped tooth smiles.


reframing expectations

"Last hoorah before we started school, Top Golf!"

My very first lesson in therapy was "Reframing Your Expectations."

It's about breaking those negative thoughts.

 Realizing you can only start where you are and move forward.

"Should" statements are attached to guilt and shame.

"I should...but I..." sets us up for failure.

"Should thinking" lacks acceptance of ourselves.

Take some time to write down some expectations you have of yourself.

"I should be perfect because I'm a pastor's wife."

"I should want to spend all my time with my kids."

Now, reframe them.

"I can live my life according to God's will and focus only on myself, not worry about others."

(The people that love me and matter most aren't excepting perfection and love me as a work in progress.)

"I can love my children without sacrificing other areas in my life."

(I am doing enough. My children know I love them.)

Here are some helpful tips to guide you through reframing your expectations.

1. Ask yourself why. Why you value or want change.

2. Turn your "should statement" into a goal. Identify the goal and break it down.

3. Set realistic goals. Be gentle to yourself. Goals can be accomplished if you make them attainable.

4. Replace the "should" with "could" or "would" which can make the statement more encouraging/soften. Even better, "can" makes your goal more assertive and empowering.

5. Think about a rock pile. If I added a rock of everything I think "should" do, my pile would be huge, unachievable. But, if I added a rock of everything I "can" do, my pile would be significantly smaller and achievable.


tuesday letters


I'm all brother has and Murray is an only child... favorite Aunt forever!

Dear Baby Jack,

You are the most precious forever baby boy. A few days with you will cure everyone of everything, I'm sure of it. I miss having a little voice repeat the last word of every sentence back to me. Never grow up.

Dear Husband, 

I see you over there, shrinking before my eyes. You are aging like fine... cheese (we don't drink... so...) I just wish getting back in shape was as easy for me. It's hard to be attracted to AND jealous of you. 

Dear Murray,

Thank you for giving me the freelance job of my dreams. As your personal butler (my title according to Hutch) I do require attending EVERY Las Vegas, NYC, everyothercoolcity conferences with you. Mmmmkay?

Dear Summer,

I know I said I was over you and I was ready for school. BUT, we have Kindergarten Open House tonight and this mama AIN'T READY. My baby!

Dear 2023,

I like you. You can stay.


coping skills

I have a bullet journal that I fill with all types of coping skills. Mostly ones that speak to the creative in me!

Coping refers to conscious strategies used to reduce unpleasant emotions. 

Coping strategies (or skills) can be thoughts or behaviors and can be individual or social. 

Coping is to deal with and overcome struggles and difficulties in life. 

It is a way for us to maintain our mental and emotional well-being.

Benefits of learning coping skills:

-Build self confidence

-Help manage emotions

-Improve independence

-Help manage stress

-Improve behavior (reactions to overstimulation)

-Improve self-regulation

-Help work through challenges

Learning what coping skills work for you is paramount to healing and dealing with depression and anxiety.

To me, coping skills are like little "time-outs," where you give yourself time to think through what is happening, what is truth, and how to respond in a healthy way.

My top, go-to coping skills I turn to (to keep me from spiraling) are:

-Box breathing (breathe in 4 seconds, hold 4 seconds, breathe out 4 seconds, hold 4 seconds, repeat)

-Writing (duh...blogger for over a decade here with boxes of used journals.)


-Organize something

-Do something creative

Below, I've listed a few (okay, a LOT) more skills.

Find one that might suit you and try it out the next time you feel overwhelmed or overstimulated!


-Watch TV

-Drink water

-Word search

-Crossword Puzzle

-Paint nails

-Do your hair


-Study the sky


-Hot shower/bath




-Create a vision board


-Rip up paper into tiny pieces

-Write a letter

-Plan a dream room


-Play with clay

-Build a fort

-Go outside and sit

-List your blessings/joys

-Read the Bible

-Jump on a trampoline

-Talk to someone




-Organize/color coordinate closet

-Plan an event

-Plant seeds

-Make words out of your full name (Anagram/Acrostic)

-Sort/edit pictures


-Collect something

-Play a computer game

-Visit your lifeyourvoice.com

-Rearrange furniture

-Smile at 5 people



-Hug someone

-Write a list of goals

-Deep breaths

-Think of something funny

-Take a time out

-Count to 10/100

-Say something kind to yourself

-Close your eyes

-Say, "I can do this."

-Imagine a happy place

-Eat a healthy snack

-Jog in place


-List your positive qualities

-Write a thank you note

-Organize something

-Play cards/board games

-Take pictures

-Laugh out loud

-Notice 5 things you can see, feel, smell, hear

-Use a relaxation app


-Drink hot tea

-Plan a trip

-Identify your emotions

-Make a day schedule

-Tell someone you're thankful for them

-Relax your muscles

-Ask, "What do I need right now?"

-Tapping fingers (or the dance...you do you, boo.)

The internet is FULL of even more examples, these are just the ones that stand out to me.

Hopefully you find one that you can put into practice and it'll eventually become second nature to you when you need it most!


tuesday letters


VBS cuties!

Dear VBS, 

You were awesome and I'm practically a real astronaut now, so...thank you. (Except, no thank you to the pie in the face.)

Dear Summer,

You've been great. So great, But, when does school start again?

Dear School,

Start sooner? Please?

Dear Pumpkin Patch,

I have never been more proud of something I literally did nothing to achieve. You are tripling in size weekly and Husband hates you, but I don't care. I am a gardener. I claim it.

Dear NYC,

I miss you.


life after tms

{Lunch with my biggest support group after my last IOP day.}

I just looked back at my posts during my TMS (Trans-cranial Magnetic Stimulation) journey and now they make me cry.

I want to delete them and forget it ever happened.

I want to re-write them and erase all the hope.

I say that to say...it didn't stick.

About a week after my TMS treatments ended, I started to feel a steady decline.

My anxiety and depression returned, almost double in power.

I felt like a failure.

Like my brain didn't do what it was supposed to do.

I re-read my past posts and felt like a liar.

All the words of hope and healing were so.far. from what I was experiencing.

Which is probably why it took me so long to write this post.

(In my heart, I feel the need to apologize, like I led everyone on. In my head, I know it's not expected.)

I ended TMS in March and I was admitted to a behavioral clinic by May.

I was at my lowest of lows and we knew something had to change.

I almost opted for inpatient, but thankfully, they offer a full day program that allowed me to go home each night and snuggle my babies.

I started PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program) on May 16.

It consisted of 3 hours of group therapy, lunch, recreational therapy, and medicinal education.

9am-2:30pm. M-F.

The first thing they did was prescribe a new anti-depressant.

To tell you my "new girl" anxiety was at an all time high is an understatement.

I was put into a room full of strangers with varying mental disorders and a new-to-me therapist.

Two things immediately happened.

First, I quickly realized I had to "turn off" my bleeding heart/ministering heart. 

I wanted to speak God's love and truth into everyone I met, but I, too, was in a broken place.

I needed to take a backseat and allow the professionals to do their work.

Second, I felt an immense case of imposter syndrome. 

I looked around the room and saw homeless people, people coming out of comas after trying to end their lives, mothers whose children had been taken away from them, military men with severe PTSD, and almost all had terrible, horrible childhoods.

Who was I to be in this room?

I have a supportive husband and family. 

I have beautiful children under my roof, a roof that we own.

I never fought in wars.

I didn't have a terrible, horrible childhood.

Why am I here?

I asked myself that question multiple times a day for the entire first week.

Then God showed me that while the paths that lead us to this place were ALL different, the fact is, we ALL ended up in this place.

We were ALL struggling and we ALL needed healing.

Once I overcame that hurdle, this place became my absolute safe place.

My happy place.

Group therapy wasn't as intimating as I imagined it would be. 

It was life changing.

We spent 3 hours (with breaks) working on ONE coping skill.

Hammering it into our minds so it became muscle memory to use in times of need.

The things I learned in my two month stay will forever be a part of my daily life.

I've stopped the spiraling.

I've lowered the negative self talk.

I have a whole tool box full of ways to talk me off the edge, should I get there again.

After some time in PHP, you step down to IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) for 3 half-days a week.

Then, when the therapist (and mostly insurance) declares you ready, you walk out into the real world.

Last Friday was my last day at Valley Behavioral Clinic and I was an emotional wreck.

Not because I was unequipped, but because I knew I would miss my "friends."

The rag-tag group of people I would never in a million years had ever met, had become a sort of family.

I knew I would miss my therapists and their constant affirmation and guidance.

My medications have been working and I am not the same person I was 2 months ago.

I knew I was ready.

Only a handful of people were aware of what was happening in my life, as I kept it close to my heart until I was ready to share.

Now, I can't wait to share more of my experience and the tools I've learned that have changed my day-to-day living.


tuesday letters


Dear Body,

I get it. I pushed you pretty hard in high school dance and now I'm paying for it...but really. Whiplash from blow drying my hair? Sprained ankle that lasts for months (and caused opposing hip problems?) I just can't with you.

Dear Arkansas,

Why do you have so many flies?

Dear Clothes,

Clean yourselves. I'm too tired. Let's all agree to be naked or only wear the same 3 outfits a week. Yeah?

Dear Curly Hair Friends,

How do you diffuse your hair (upside down/side to side for volume) without completely destroying your neck? (Air drying would take 24 hours with the amount of hair I have.)

Dear You,

All of you reading this. You probably read all my TMS updates as well. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I cannot tell you how God used your words, hugs, "likes," and "hearts." I wish I could host a party and invite everyone from all over to celebrate you. 


my new identity

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heala time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give upa time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to menda time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (emphasis mine)

For almost ten years (maybe even longer) I've been carrying around a sign that read:

Depression, Anxiety, Broken, Unworthy

About halfway through my TMS (trans-cranial magnetic stimulation) treatments, when I started noticing changes, I struggled with re-wiring my inner voice.

For far too long, I allowed test results to define who I was.

Depression is a part of me.

Anxiety is a part of me.

Just like music is a part of me.

Church ministry is a part of me.

My children and husband are a part of me.

But these things do not define who I am as a whole.

Depression steals and twists my emotions.

Anxiety takes so much from me.

Worship through music has changed from the stage to the audience.

Church ministry has been marred by my depression and anxiety.

My family, my marriage, hit rock bottom.

But these things do not define who I am as a whole.

A lot of change has happened in this year alone.

My health.

My roles in our church.

My family.

It's left me spinning.

Questioning, "who am I now?"

The truth, I know, is that I am who I've always been...a child of God.

Because He is who He's always been...God.

It's a head knowledge thanks to a strong foundation I've had since childhood...

but it's proven to be a long road to get that to become a heart knowledge.

I don't know why He chose to give me this basket full of depression, anxiety, music, ministry, and family.

But, I accept it.

And now, I accept that I am fully and wholly in His arms.

I know depression and anxiety will always be a part of me.

But they will not define me.


tms week eight


Loving these babies in a whole new light.

Week eight was short and sweet.

Just 3 treatments and only 1 more to go!

I'm currently in Georgia, watching Netflix with my sis-in-law, waiting for my baby nephew snuggles, and on Saturday we are headed to NYC!

My absolute dream trip and I can't even believe it's finally happenning! 

Next week I will have so much more to say about this whole TMS journey, the healing, the amount of encouragement I've received, all of it.

But for now, I've got New York on my mind...


tms week seven


The season of new life.
Seems fitting for the closure of my TMS procedures.

Most of you follow my blog's Facebook page and probably saw the video I posted Monday.

In short...
it's working.

My biggest takeaway from this week is that God is not withholding healing from me.

If you asked me 7 weeks ago if I thought God would heal me, I would have laughed at you.
Then probably cried.
Because I truly believed He wasn't hearing me or deliberately choosing to not heal me.

I couldn't understand why.
(I still don't, not really.)
But I strongly believe that will come in time.

Right now, though, I'm sitting in His healing.
Right now, I don't care why.
Right now, I'm re-learning how to be "normal."

And it feels so, so good.

(Next week, I have 3 procedures, a quick trip to NYC, then one last procedure upon my return.)


tms week six


The prettiest flowers come from little boys that call you "Mama."

When I arrived Monday, I took my usual survey...
And my score was 11.

Not even in the "depression" zone.
Just the "mild mood disturbance" zone.
I'm sorry, what?!

What I'm combating the most against is "re-training" my brain to accept good as good.
Wins as wins.

Because old Lauren quickly thinks, 
"You scored so well only because you had a weekend away from the kids and life."
"Of course you feel fine now, you had a getaway weekend!"
"Just look at the rest of the week, you'll see."

Because it HAS been a rough week.
Brandon had the flu last week/turned sinus infection over the weekend/turned bronchitis.
So, I've had a lot more on my plate.
Unfortunately, that shuts me down.
I go into survival mode.
I get the kids dressed, fed, from point A to B to C, etc.

This week, I heard a quote that stopped me in my tracks.
"Are you having a bad day or did you have a bad 5 minutes that you've been milking all day?"

People have bad days. 
Normal people have bad days.
That doesn't mean I've failed, or the TMS isn't working, or I'm not normal. 

There's guilt that I've undone every amazing thing I learned at our weekend retreat.
(Which was absolutely amazing.)
But, even though I haven't been jumping around with joy every second of every day...

I haven't spiraled.

That's a major difference.

I had lunch with a bestie this week and I asked her if she noticed a difference...
To which she emphatically responded, "YES."

I'm choosing to believe my friend.
I'm choosing to believe my Husband.
I'm choosing to believe the scores.

I'm choosing to believe that God is healing me.

(Due to a bad weather day and having to miss an appointment this week, I go M-F again next week.
Then 3x week 8.
And 1x week 9.)


tms week five


circa 2009

I can't believe it has been five weeks already.

That means next week is my last week of every day visits.

Week seven will be 3 days.

Week eight, 2.

And finally, week 9, 1 day.

(with a NYC sister trip thrown in there between weeks eight and nine!)

This week was an absolute game changer.

We decided to try the 3 minute "bursts" instead of the drawn out 19 minute procedure.

By Wednesday, I was laughing at how quickly it was over.

The pain/feeling is best described as "jarring."

It feels like my teeth are trying to go through my jaw and brain, towards the magnet.

Very strange. 

A bit painful.

But...for only THREE MINUTES.

My survey Monday was back to the high 'teens.

So, I'd say this week was a success.


This weekend, Brandon and I are headed to Branson, MO for a marriage retreat.

With my mental/physical illnesses, the thing that has taken the biggest hit is our marriage.

I'm not the same girl as pictured above.

I feel like I've been through the wringer, barely hanging on.

But that guy up there...

he's never wavered.

Not once.

When I've felt like he could do so much better, 

he's fought for us.

When I've said hurtful words towards him,

he's fought for us.

When I've changed in so many unpleasant and new ways, 

he's fought for us.

14 years later and he's still fighting for us.

Please pray for us this weekend.

Pray that God renews our love.

Pray that I can see the true reality of God and Brandon's love for me.

Pray that the enemy knows, once and for all, he can't have us. 


tms week four


My sweet valentine's.

Last week, I mentioned taking a survey of sorts every Monday.

I've had some questions on that, so I'll explain a little more.

There are 4 statements per section.

An example: 

0 I like the way I look.

1 There are a few physical changes I wish to make.

2 I wish I could make permanent changes to my appearance.

3 I think I’m ugly.

They refer to body, mind, sleeping, emotions, etc.  

Once you finish, you add them all up and get a single score.

The lower, the better.

Weeks 1 and 2, I was high 30s, in the severe depression range.

Week 3, however, like I mentioned, my score was 18.

I was shocked!

Now, obviously, these surveys are a response to the previous week, not the week ahead.

Week 3 was a rough week for me.

It hurt.

Every facet of my life felt off.

(And, in my true, transparent, messy form: husband and I did get into a little “heated fellowship” over the weekend.)

And that allllll ran into this Monday’s survey.

I was back in the high 30s.

Concerned for the “dip” in score, my Dr asked how I was and mentioned how he was a bit worried this may not be working.

He said it could just a be a bad weekend.

Or it could just be bad timing in life to try TMS.

(To which my brain responded, “Bruh, this IS my life…nothin’ changin’!”) 

Overall, he wants to re-adjust, maybe re-map my brain, and increase.the.power.

Overall, I feel like I failed.

It’s been SO hard to NOT feel defeated. 

After my appointment today, I walked into his office, much like walking into the principals office.

We decided there are two options.

One, we will try Monday. 

Instead of 10 seconds “on” and 10 seconds “off,” there’s a 3 minute option. 

1,000 pulses per minute, for 3 minutes.

See, in my brain, the 10 seconds of relief gets me worked up, preparing for the next round.

I literally start counting by 40s all the way to 3,000.

(That’s why your cards of verses and prayers come in handy!)

I think doing it all at once will hurt, but it will also be over and done with.

Eventually, inevitably, he would like to increase the power.

I’m at 120% now, and the higher we go, the deeper the pulses reach the correct part of my brain. 

Buuuuut, also the more it hurts.

Buuuuuut, but…this is all progress.

It’s all FORWARD progress.

My God, my Dr, my family and friends, are all FOR me.

I’m not failing.

I’m not defeated.

This can still work.


tms week three


(Snuck a super-flattering selfie for you guys. The black thing on the left is a cushion that I rest my head on. The weird contraption stuck on my forehead is what they use to measure where my head/brain is located which is then translated to the computer screen in front of me. The large thing on the right is the actual magnet, where the pulses "shoot" through.)

I don't have much to say about this week except... it hurt.

I think it will just hurt from here on out.

Every Monday, I am given a questionnaire of sorts.

Every Monday, I rate myself on a scale of 1-4 in 20-30 ways.

My happiness.

My energy.

My health.


Every other week, my total score is 36-38.

Which is in the "Severely Depressed" range.

This week, however, my score was 18.

I was in shock. (no pun intended.)

I recounted about 20x to be sure.

I KNOW that's a win.

But this week as a whole, since I woke up Monday morning, has felt like one huge loss.

I feel like I've taken 5 steps backward.

Like my mind and body aren't syncing.

Here's hoping week four brings clarity and peace.

And maybe, just maybe, a little less pain.

(Only 6 more weeks to go...)


tms week two


120% babyyyy!

Going into week two, I was SO much more prepared.

Mentally, physically, and spiritually.

God's family y'all.

At church Sunday, I was stopped by so many sweet people asking about me and checking in on me.

I was enveloped by arms as I went down to the alter to pray.

I FELT His presence.

I haven't felt that in a long, long time.

Thank you.

The weather in Arkansas has been frosty as of late. 

School was out M-W, so we had two cuties in the car on the way to my appointments.

Monday, Emmerson prayed over me before I got out of the car.

Something about hearing my sweet 8 year old pray that "Mommy would know You are right beside her..."

I lost it.

My babes.

Monday went as planned.

We "upped" the percentage some and it only hurt a little.

Tuesday was canceled because the road conditions were so bad.

Wednesday, I MADE IT TO 120%!

I couldn't believe it when my Dr "upped" the power and then proclaimed, "That's 120!"

I seriously almost told him to shut up. 

I couldn't believe it.

A lot have asked what it feels like.

It's hard to put into exact words, but have you ever been to a chiropractor, or had those sticky pads put on your back, legs, etc, that pulse electricity?

It's like that.

Only, it's on the highest power and 40 individual "shocks" for 10 seconds straight, a 10 second break, then 40 more, and so on.

For roughly 20 minutes.

So, yes. It hurts.

And, I don't know why, but some days it REALLY hurts.

Thursday, REALLY hurt.

(I also tripped and sprained my ankle getting ready that morning, so that may have been a source of pain.)

Friday, REALLY hurt, again. 

I’m afraid it might just hurt from here on. 

2 weeks down, 7 to go! 

We got this. 


tms week one

What. A. Rollercoaster.

For me, and for you, I want to keep a journal of how each week of treatments go.

I was a ball of nerves walking into my first appointment, Monday afternoon.

Sitting in a chair, stickers and magnets stuck to me, huge mechanical arms behind me... 

I didn't know what to expect, so I defaulted and started crying.

Knowing it was only anxious nerves, I assured my Dr I was fine, just overwhelmed.

They hooked my hand up and "shocked" my brain until my hand/arm involuntarily jerked.

They continued to "shock" me to find my "threshold."

Once they found "that spot" (these re-caps will be full of super science-y words) the fancy computer then told them to move ever so slightly to reach the "deactivated" part of my brain. (The serotonin store.)

Then, they moved the massive magnet to the right spot and started my first treatment at only 80% of my threshold.

It was to gradually increase over the week, ending on Friday at 120% of my threshold.

Once it was over, I was beyond overwhelmed. 

I was feeling all the feels.

Anxious. Excited. Nervous. Hopeful. Nervous about being hopeful. Etc.

I was also experiencing a "new" type of headache. 

(Which is super fun for someone with chronic tension headaches and migraines.)

I felt God nudge me to use my 30 minutes of treatment time in a way that glorified Him.

It had been a while since I felt any Godly nudges, so I immediately acted.

I turned to my family and friends, asking for verses and prayers to copy and bring in with me.

And then Tuesday came...

I honestly have no idea or explanation what happen.

We were supposed to move to 90% and once the "shocks" started, I almost lept out of my chair.

It felt like my eye and eyebrow were being ripped backward.

Twitching is normal, expected, but this was something beyond twitching.

Confused, my Dr lowered the power a little and tried again.

Same thing.

Lowered a little more.

Same thing.

After a quick "pep talk" that translated in my mind as "Lauren, get over it. This will hurt. Suck it up." we basically did the procedure at 82%.

(Please know, my Dr is in NO way a jerk. He is very kind and was worried about me, but also needed to show a little tough love. I'm just a tad sensitive.)

Feeling like a failure, and in a lot of pain, I came home and passed out in bed.

Husband woke me up a few hours later, claiming I'd really want to look outside.

He was right!


It was a sweet, simple reminder that God sees me.

(Not to mention the many, many friends covering me in prayers and speaking God's word over me.)

To say I was nervous to return Wednesday is an overstatement.

But the craziest thing happened...nothing happened!

It was the exact opposite of Tuesday's experience and I was able to make it to 90% with no problem.

Thursday, I woke up apprehensive.

I couldn't get past Tuesday's pain to not feel uneasy about that day's procedure.

But as I drove through the beautiful snowy roads and reminded myself of the many, many people praying for me at that exact moment, I walked into the office with unexplainable peace.

(If you follow me on my messy blog Facebook page, you know this part...)


Skipped right past 100% (byyyeeee) and back on schedule.

Or so I thought.

When I returned today, I realized the nurse made a calculation error and I hadn't made it to 110%, but only 100%.

I keep reminding myself that progress is progress.

However, I couldn't help but feel let down for the false hope I'd been riding on the whole day before.

As soon as I sat down today, things immediately felt off.

The dread starting to creep in and sure enough...today hurt.

Just as Tuesday, it was an unbearable pain.

I started crying out of frustration, why does it hurt on some days and not on others?

I started crying out of failure, why can't I progress like everyone else is?

So, today I only made it a little past 100%.

Progress is progress.
Progress is progress.

I am not failing.

I am not defeated.

God is still here and fighting for me.

I have until next Friday to make 120% power.

Please join me in praying that I made that goal.

Progress is progress.




My why.

I feel like it's the night before the biggest test of my life.

It feels like waiting for Christmas morning and yet also dreading the box you've been given to open.

Unless you are a complete stranger, you know I've struggled with depression and anxiety (which umbrellas a host of other health issues) for years now. 

My journey has been an open book.

I can't help it.

God literally put my heart on my sleeve.

This journey has been...messy.

I've had all the highs, all the lows, all the symptoms, all the withdrawals, all the everythings.

And now we've come to this.

Trans-cranial Magnetic Stimulation.

Over the next 6 weeks, everyday, Monday-Friday, I will go to my doctor for a short procedure.

Then spend the next 3 weeks tapering off the procedures.

The name itself sounds scarier than it actually is. 

I can honestly say I'm not scared to start this.

I'm scared of what happens if this doesn't work.

The lies in my head distort reality and this procedure holds promise to fix that.

But the "me" in me can't help but worry...what if?

So I'm asking you, my friends, from all states and walks of my life, to PRAY.

Pray everyday over the next 9 weeks.

That change is VISIBLE.

That hope becomes CLEAR.

That God is SEEN and I can SEE Him once again.


tuesday letters


Cuties with the most photogenic penguin at the Atlanta Aquarium!

Dear Audiobooks, 

I love to listen to you. I love that I get paid to read for you. What a dream job!

Dear Closet Office,

You are cramped and small, but cute and perfect for my recording needs.

Dear Emmerson,

I forgive you for being SO dramatic when you asked if I was "from the NINETEENS?!" 

Dear Hutch, 

I forgive you for telling me you'll marry someone else one day.

Dear Hair,

Grow faster.


emmerson is eight!


Happiest of days to you, sweet girl.


new year, new me?

I don't want to write this post.

I wanted to end last year with healing, resolution, and confidence in my future.

Instead, I'm bringing in all of 2022's baggage into 2023.

I actually ended 2022 with a huge question mark.

So, I don't want to write this post.

I don't want to ring in the new year.

I don't want to think about new goals or new resolutions.

Because I still have plenty, too many, unresolved issues.

I don't want to write this post.

I have a fear of things not being tied up in pretty bows.

I can't call something finished if it has gaping holes, unattended wounds.

I can't start something else when there isn't anything else to begin.

So, I don't want to write this post.

Because I'm afraid I've lost something in the old year.

That I'm coming into the new one lacking.

I had hopes for healing.

Hopes for reconciliation.

Hopes for new foundations.

Hopes for answers.

And I didn't want to write this post 

because I'm afraid I've lost my hope.

And I don't want to say that, 

because that's not allowed.

As a pastor's kid, a pastor's wife, a christian, a mother...

I can't say that.

But I needed to write this post.

My health problems have tripled.

My mental state hasn't improved.

I yell at my kids for no reason.

I get upset with Husband for every reason.

My imperfections are magnified and made clear to me every hour of every day.

And when I feel this way, I'm reminded of what a younger, wiser Lauren wrote:


(October 20, 2015)

"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrow, like sea billows, roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
'it is well, it is well with my soul.'"

We take for granted the rivers until we're being tossed in the sea billows.

We're oblivious to the peace until the sorrow pours onto us.

The biggest lie the enemy uses against Christians is that we are promised a life of peace and when we are in a season of sorrow, it's our own faults. That if I'm a Christian (or worse, a pastor's wife) I'm not "allowed" to go through dark days. Or if I am going through sea billows, I have to keep my mask on while fighting for my life.

Can I just blast that lie and send right back where it belongs?

Friends, family, brothers and sisters,
it is not well with my soul.

But just as He taught me,
I will say, "it is well with my soul."
I will chant, "it is well."
I will weep, "it is well."
I will whisper, "it is well."
I will scream, "it is well with my soul."

Because in my sorrows, in the midst of fighting my sea billows, I cannot hear the truth. I am deaf to the truth. I am unable to save myself.

But because in my peace, in my rivers, I absorbed His truth, I hid His truth in my heart,
I can say, "it is well with my soul."

I may not believe it at first, as the waves crash down over me.
"It is well with my soul."
When I can barely keep my head above water,
"it is well with my soul."

When it is not well with my soul, I still have to SAY it.
I have to chant it.
I have to weep it.
I have to whisper it.
I have to scream it.

Because there's truth in those words. I'm suffocating in my sorrows, but He is still God. My soul is well because He won't leave me in these sea billows. Trials will come, but the clouds will be rolled back. I don't have to believe it in those first few moments, but the truth becomes an anthem in my heart and my sorrows become peace once again.

"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrow, like sea billows, roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
'it is well, it is well with my soul.'"


I needed to write this post.

To mark this beginning.

"I don't have to believe it in those first few moments, 

but the truth becomes an anthem in my heart 

and my sorrows become peace once again."