made to crave.


Here’s the link to the Made to Crave: 21 Day Challenge Bible Study that we’re doing!  If you have a YouVersion account you can go straight to it. If you don’t, it super easy to create one. You can even set it to where it comes to your email!  Day 1 starts tomorrow!

Join us!



If you’ve listened to me anytime at all, you know I am the proud momma of 2 daughters. Haley is my oldest & Abbey is my youngest. They couldn’t be more opposite in personalities, yet they both keep me laughing all the time! I love them so much, and being their mother is the greatest JOY of my life!

Haley just recently graduated from USF. She is a bright, articulate, and talented young woman. Her leadership skills are second to none, and she’s taught me a thing or two the last few years! Seriously, there have been many times, I’ve sat and listened to her dissect or talk through something, and I think to myself, “where did she learn this?” Besides being extremely smart, Haley is the most caring person I know. She’s compassionate, tender, and loyal to all the people in her life. She’s quick on her feet, and I know if I need something done – and done right – I can call Haley.  She’s also extremely anal JUST LIKE ME, and her OCD kicks in often…which I personally think is a positive!  Because she’s my daughter, I could go on and one, but I’ll end with this: The thing I love most about Haley is how much she loves Jesus. In some ways, Haley is not only my daughter, she’s also my best friend, and my sister in Christ. Some of our best conversations have been talking about Jesus and what He’s done in our lives.

But like all of us, Haley’s not perfect, and she has struggles too. Actually, one in particular that she’s battled her whole life. I’ve invited her to share what that struggle is here on my blog. I am convinced there are people in our community who struggle with the same thing. I’ve encouraged Haley to write. I think writing is powerful, cathartic, and healing. And I’ve encouraged her to write about it as it’s happening, as opposed to looking at it through the rearview mirror. As a mom, I want nothing more than for my daughter to be free from anything that is holding her back from all that God has for her! But on the flip side, it’s also very hard, as her mother, to let her put herself out there like this (and just FYI, all negative comments will be deleted – Momma Bear says!) But for those of you who struggle – or have struggled with something similar – I hope you can encourage my daughter, or perhaps she can encourage you to join her in the journey she is beginning.

Meet my daughter, Haley…..

Haley, I am so proud of you! This takes so much courage, baby! But, I know God is gonna bring you unimaginable blessing with your willingness to be so vulnerable. As I’ve told you every year on your birthday, YOU made me a mommy! And I am so thankful God picked me to be yours!

haley & I running the princess half this past year with team freedom!

haley & I running the princess half this past year with team freedom!

I am not a writer. I’m not even sure where I want to begin and what I want to say but I am going to be completely honest. And being this vulnerable is the scariest thing I have ever done.

I’ve had one major battle I’ve fought my entire life: my weight. I went on my first diet in the fourth grade and haven’t stopped looking for the magic solution since. Over the last five years, I’ve been on several weight loss journeys that have all ended after some considerable progress. I quit on myself before I even gave myself a real chance to succeed. I would slip up and convince myself that I’d failed once again.

Another reason this is hard is that I am fully aware of the stigma that comes with being overweight. I don’t want pity. And it’s really hard to draw attention to something you’ve been trying to hide your whole life.

But as a twenty-two year old college graduate, enough is enough. I haven’t quite found my place in this world, so for now I’ve decided to focus on me. I’m finally deciding to lose the weight once and for all. It’s hard to write this number because it’s a lot of weight to lose, and I could easily get down on myself and quit before I start. But here’s the number: 130. Yep, I need to lose over a 100 pounds. It’s overwhelming to think about it, but every journey starts with one step, right? I don’t know what this next year is going to look like but I know it won’t be pretty… or easy.

Something about this time feels different, though. I’ve realized that until I deal with my problem head on and bring God into the center of my food addiction, I will never succeed. So for me, this is more about my spiritual journey than my physical one.

About a week ago, I started “Made to Crave: 21 Day Challenge” by Lysa TerKeurst. If you are struggling with ANYTHING, go and start this devotional immediately! It’s available on the YouVersion Bible app and online. From the first day this devotional has broken me. I want to share a little with you now:

“I had to get honest enough to admit it that I relied on food more than I relied on God. I craved food more than I craved God. I knew it was something God was challenging me to surrender to His control. Really surrender. Surrender to the point where I’d make radical changes for the sake of my spiritual health perhaps even more than my physical health. Part of my surrender was asking myself a different question, a really raw question. May I ask you this same question? Is it possible we love and rely on food more that we love and rely on God?”

I want to surrender my food addiction. I want to finally be free.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139: 23-24

Today starts my journey to freedom. I hope this is a safe place to do it. I do fear what people will say. But, I told my mom, “nobody’s going talk bad about an alcoholic who’s in rehab….” So, I hope by acknowledging my struggle, I can do two things:

1. Call it out into the open.
2. Find a community where we can encourage one another.

Thanks for your prayers. I will pray for you too!


So, yesterday I had outpatient surgery for a bad vein in my leg that’s been causing me pain and circulations issues for the last year or so. I was pretty out of it yesterday and in a lot of pain, but feel so much better today! I’m laid up for a few days, so my laptop is keeping me company.  A few minutes ago, I  went through and read the text exchange between my mom (Mohair), my oldest (Haleybug),  my youngest (Abster), and my niece (Pauleener). I am laughing my head off!!

The exchange started in the recovery room, and continued in the car when Pete was driving me home. Keep in mind, I’m on anesthesia. But my mom is NOT!

Exchange posted below. I have no objectivity, maybe it’s just funny to us, but I thought I’d share nonetheless. (Plus, I’m bored!) We are crazy. And clearly, my craziness comes naturally. haha! Enjoy.

part 1

part 1

Part 2

part 2

part 3

part 3

part 4

part 4

part 5

part 5

part 6

part 6

part 7

part 7

part 8

part 8

I’m in. Again.

Hey Friends!

I know lots of you are starting to wonder what the plan is for Team Freedom 2014. I love that you’re so committed and want to make a difference in the lives of women (and men too) you will most likely never meet.

Welp, as of 30 minutes ago, I registered for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half in St. Petersburg on February 9, 2014. (Note: This is a couple of weeks earlier than what we’ve done the last few years.) We’re not able to do the Disney Princess Half this next year because it is already sold out. The growing popularity of that event has made it prohibitive for us to maximize the impact of what we’re trying to do…to stand up and put an end to human trafficking.

I’m still “officially” on vacation, so I don’t wanna dive in to the logistics for the run, but I did wanna share with you something that happened in Canada last Friday that was a significant reminder of the work we still have to do…

While spending the day in Victoria, British Columbia, (btw, Victoria is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen in my life! So so pretty!) I ran into a corner market to get a couple of things I needed. I was standing at the corner paying for my items, when two young women walked in, and stood behind me. While I was organizing my change back in my wallet, I heard one of the girls ask for a pack of condoms. My heart fell, and I felt sick to my stomach. I looked over at her and there was an inexplicable hollowness and sadness in her eyes. At the risk of sounding judgmental, she looked the part of the what these items would be used for later. The guy laid the box on counter and said, “be careful out there.” I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. Nervous and gittery, she avoided eye contact with me, and hurried out the door. I wanted to grab her by the arm, and say “No!!! You don’t have to do this! This isn’t what you were created for.” I do get what I’m telling you about here is better described as “consensual” prostitution. But regardless, it’s part of the sex industry that exploits and traps women. Of course, we tend to think more of the little girls who are kidnapped and forced to do something they never agreed or wanted to do. But three years in of educating myself (and I still have SO much to learn!), I do know that it’s ALL evil, and breaks the heart of God.

I walked out of the store, crushed in spirit, praying for the two women, I’d (providentially perhaps?) crossed paths with. Because of this encounter, and all the things I’ve learned in recent years, I will use the platform God has given me and my voice as loudly as I possibly can. And the best part of it all? SO many of you are jumping in with me. I can’t even begin to tell you what pure joy this brings me.

So here’s the deal. My lower back is giving me fits. I’m having surgery on a bad vein in my left leg in early August, and I still don’t consider myself a runner. I will complain. I will hate training. But this Team Freedom thing has legs! Pun intended. And I’m in. Again!

The Pasta Party will be that Friday or Saturday night  (February 7 or 8) in the Tampa Bay area. I’m gonna start training this week. I will post more info here soon. But this is our run this year:

Running again. For those who aren't Free.To.Run...yet!

Running again. For those who aren’t Free.To.Run…yet!

Another great thing about this particular run is there’s a 5K too! I’m registered for the half, but you can bet I’ll be wishing I’d signed up for 5K on those long run days. And to anticipate this question: “Can I raise less money if I sign up for 5K?” The answer is – lovingly! – “No.” That’s the point of Team Freedom ….to raise awareness and funds! We’ve already raised well over $100,000 the last 2 years! And we ARE making a difference. I’ll have Stacia share with you something incredibly special that’s happened the last few months. I can’t share on an open forum such as this, but she’ll be able to talk about it with us at the pasta party. Just know that if we make a difference in even one girl’s life, it is WORTH it.

So….are you in? Register HERE!

I promise, more info soon. But for now, I’m closing the computer and resuming vacation. Shoot, I may even lace up this afternoon. Thank you for your hearts. I love you all so much.

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”
― William Wilberforce

article. part 2. {re-post}

Happpy Father’s Day to all of the dads today! I’m actually on a plane (love wi-fi on a plane) flying to Atlanta for the 1st leg of Summer Cruise 8! Woohoo!

Here’s part 2 of my re-post from last year:



Yesterday I posted an article I received last May from one of my dad’s friends, Bob. Providentially, mine and Bob’s lives intersected after the tornadoes in Alabama last year.

my dad

my dad

I’ve debated back and forth whether to post the article. I actually debated even last night whether to take it down or not, after I posted it. The description of my dad is so raw. So real. So honest…

Which takes me back to the afternoon that I read the article for the first time.

I was sitting in my office at the station late this afternoon. As I read Bob’s words, my mind could see vividly the images he was describing. I’d seen the same scenes many times myself. And I had received the same phone calls, driven the same routes. It was all too familiar. As I looked over the pages, there it all was … in black and white … all of my dad’s sin. All of the filth. All of the darkness … printed there in black and white. Documented.

Still crying, I gathered my things – including the article – got in my car, to drive the hour commute home. I replayed many tapes that afternoon. One of my dad almost literally running us off the road when he got kicked out of one rehab center and I was driving him to another. He wanted to stop for beer, and I wouldn’t exit off the highway. When we passed the next exit, he literally grabbed the wheel and forced me to take the exit. Spinning at the base of the ramp, I gave in and drove him to the convenience store. At 16 years old, I didn’t know what else to do. And wrecking didn’t feel like it was worth withholding a 6 pack from him.

The next minute I started laughing hysterically remembering the story of the false teeth and my dad calling K.L. to see if he “had an extra pair laying around.” Sad. But funny!! Perhaps I get my resourcefulness from him?

My PaPa Brown had a huge barn. He tore it down, and built a newer barn on another section of his property. My dad had an RV trailer they moved onto the old slab of the torn down barn. To this day, I still remember walking up to the RV and hearing my dad sing “My home’s on Perry’s slab” to the tune of the group Alabama’s “my home’s in Alabama….” He was drunk.

I don’t have a ton of memories. And most of the ones I do have are not good ones. But one of the last ones I have is when we lived in Mobile. My dad had moved down to Mobile because he wanted to be closer to me and Haley (his first and only grandchild). I didn’t know of his plans to move south until the phone rang one afternoon, and it was my dad on the other line. “I’m here. I decided to move today. I’m at the K.” I laughed at first because the name of the convenience store was “Circle K.” He asked where my townhouse was and if he could stop by. I told him he wasn’t welcome if he’d been drinking; that he wasn’t allowed to be around my daughter in that condition. So a few minutes later, he was at my front door, everything that he owned loaded in his car.

I invited him in. It was the first time he’d seen Haley. He cried.

He found an apartment and stayed in Mobile for a while. He quickly learned our routine and knew we got home around 1:30. I was enrolled at the University of South Alabama. Haley went to Mom’s Morning Out at our church while I was in class. We like to come home and take naps. I tried my best to get him to come around 4 p.m., but he’d usually give us til about 2:30 or 3. For several months, he would come over in the afternoon, warm up my morning’s cold leftover coffee, and play with Haley in the floor. The days he didn’t show up, I knew he was drinking. I can honestly say he never once showed up drunk; he honored my wishes to not be around Haley having been drinking.

One afternoon, Haley was sick. Her prescription was ready, but she was sound asleep in her crib. My dad knocked on the door to visit. I was conflicted. I really needed to get Haley’s prescription, and she was sleeping so peacefully, but could I really trust him to stay with her?  He was sober, and I knew I could ask him to sit with her for 15 minutes while I ran to the pharmacy. I gave him 20 minutes worth of instructions, and 30 minutes worth of warnings. I literally could’ve been there and back twice by the time I was done telling him everything I needed to say. Against my better judgement, I left to get Haley’s medicine. I literally was hyperventilating with fear that I’d just made the worst decision of my life. I raced back home, imagination going crazy. I ran in the house, in full panic, expecting something horrible. And there my dad sat, at the kitchen table drinking the nasty warmed up old coffee. Haley was still sound asleep in her bed. The expression on my face said it all. “You didn’t trust me, did you?” he asked. “no, I didn’t.” I said. I don’t remember exactly what was said after that but it was a cross between, “I’ve given you every right not to trust me. But I’m grateful you did.”

Eventually my dad moved back to NE Alabama. We were in Mobile a little while longer, and then we moved to Tampa in June of 1994. It was in November that I got the phone call that he had passed away in jail. As I mentioned yesterday, I don’t remember much about his funeral. It’s crazy, really, because I have a great memory. An excellent memory! But I don’t really remember that day. I just remember feeling the finality of everything, and that it would never be the way it was supposed to be.

Reading Bob’s article brought all of this back to the surface for me. Time has a way of dulling things. Seeing Bob’s words and description of my dad in black and white made it all real again. Through tears, and with these tapes playing in my head, I told God how much it hurt.

And that’s when I heard God speak these words to my heart:

“You know, Carmen, you have an article too.”

For a few moments on I-75, God gave me a birds eye view, and I could see a glimpse of my dad’s life from His perspective. A glimpse of my life.

Looking down, I could see my dad’s article. I could see my article. All there, printed out for God to see. Nothing hidden. All out in the open.

And then I felt God say, “but because of the cross, laid over your articles, I don’t see them.” I truly had this vision in my head of the cross literally laid over our documented, filthy and guilty articles. But because of Jesus, God looks down and our articles are covered.

It was a moment. A healing moment. And for the first time in 40 years, I saw my dad as clean. I saw him whole. Healthy. Sober.

So on this Father’s Day, I can say with the sincerest of hearts, that I do look forward to seeing my dad in Heaven one day. Clear-eyes, and made new. I look forward to hugging him. And letting him know I forgive him.


Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. -Psalm 51:7


article. part 1. {re-post}

Hey Guys!

Last year I posted a 2-part blog about the redemption God gave me about my dad, long after he had passed away. We (unexpectedly) talked about it on the show yesterday; it wasn’t planned at all. But, since we did, I thought I’d re-post the 2 blogs today and tomorrow.

Here’s Part 1. I’ll post Part 2 tomorrow! In the meantime, I’m gonna go and see if I can dig up a picture of my dad. I don’t have very many, but I will try and find a picture to post with Part 2 tomorrow.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day.

The last few days I’ve thought a lot about an article I received last May after our Giftcards for Alabama outreach that helped a tornado-torn community near my hometown of Jacksonville. I’ve actually debated for a month or so on whether or not to share this article on my blog. The last thing I would ever want to do is hurt my family. But God has redeemed and healed a deep wound in my heart, that I really can’t not share. This is only part 1, though.

There are a thousand “only God” details I could share with you that happened this time last year, but just know for sure that through a series of well-orchestrated, providential events, Bob found me online as he was searching to hear the interview we’d done with his pastor. Bob had no idea the morning show page he was searching for would lead to me, Carmen, daughter of Ken. Bob reached out to me, and we exchanged several emails. I cried as I read each one. (for whatever reason, I don’t remember much of my dad’s funeral services; I’m blank on that day except for riding in the car with my aunt. I also remember not feeling anything.)  Eventually Bob sent me this article (I’m sharing a portion of it) he had written about my dad. I was sitting at my desk late one day, when I opened Bob’s email and read the following. Years worth of hurt, regret, pain, dysfunction, and anguish made it’s way to the surface that afternoon. Alone, I bawled my eyes out, grieving what I never had, grieving what would never be, grieving what I didn’t in November 1994.

Bob nailed my father. He captured him perfectly in this article.

Tomorrow, I will share part 2. And the “moment” God healed this broken daughter’s heart.

Meet my dad….


The Jacksonville High School Golden Eagles 1964 football season didn’t make the record books. Ken, a loud mouth freshman, was a running back. He’d run back and forth, on and off the field with an ice water bucket, ammonia capsules, and off-­the-­cuff, off color jokes.

Ken truly brought an extra flare of entertainment to the game. Ken was Dennis the Men­ace, Don Rickles and Rich Little all in one.

His impersonation of one of our beloved coaches nick-named “Rat” left us in the locker room hyperventilating from laughter before the game while our dwindling number of fans wondered how we could lose so many games with so much talent!

Hate Ken or love him, there was no way to get rid of him! I was one of the ones who loved him.

Graduating or simply turning sixteen and dropping out of school changes everything. Life gets much more complicated. The foot loose, fancy free days of runnin’ with like-minded high school buddies, locker room jokes, and competing for the girls’ attention is gone forever.

When I heard Ken enlisted and headed for Vietnam, I knew the troops over there were in for some entertainment. And they didn’t even have to wait for Bob Hope or Red Foxx! Unlike some of our buddies, Ken made it back, but like so many, not without deep personal, emotional damage and baggage. He married and became the dad of two children. He even became a preacher, a real zealot for God. The Baptist Church definitely had a spark plug!

That was until….

Ken was so outgoing that he could sell anything: Rocket Burgers, Jesus Christ, or furniture. The furniture store was his headquarters during the week. After hours, doors closed and locked, out would come the bottle, in would come the drink and out would come the demons.

Alcohol put Ken’s conscience to sleep. The Baptist Church lost him. The devil got him. He lost his family, his dignity, his self respect. Years later, a meager, monthly US Government disability check would become his enabler.

It was 30 years after our care free high school days I found Ken held up in an old dilapidated, wrecked, mobile home, electricity disconnected for non-­payment; a God awful stench from a toilet seldom flushed. A fat, fluffy smelly puppy he named, Bear, after his hero Bear Bryant, the legen­dary football coach.

Bear, the dog never went outside. Ken’s trailer was like stepping into one of hell’s garbage dumpsters: dog poop and urine, old molded cottage cheese cartons, empty beer cans strewn all over the floor; ashes and cigarette butts accumulated everywhere, and there sitting in the middle of it all, layin’ back in an old worn out, caved in, faded, unraveled, fabric arm chair, propped up against a rotten, roach infested wall under a rusty, crooked, Alabama Crimson Tide plaque, unkempt, drunk out of his mind, still crackin’ jokes was our old high school buddy, Ken.

His face was wrinkled way beyond his years. His skin was like weathered, sun baked pork rind; nicotine stained hands trembling, one holding a cigarette butt he’d gotten off the floor and relit. His hair was gray, thin and receding. The noticeable scar on his forehead was the reminder of one of the nights he took a beating. His drunken, smart mouth called for blows and another drunk beat him in the head with a pool cue and left him in an alley for dead.

I walked on in. My heart broke. I told Ken that I loved him and offered to help him clean up his place. He mumbled some smart remark about Bear Bryant and fell asleep. I put out his relit cigarette butt, took Bear outside and began some straightening and cleaning, a task impossible to finish in one day or month for that matter. I made a dent in it, however, let Bear back in, went home, threw my smelly clothes into the washer, took a shower and returned the next day to check on Ken.

I took him to meet his appointment with the doctor, health department, probation officer and anywhere else he felt he needed to go. Any where other than the beer store, that is. One day with Ken became two, then another and another. Two weeks later, Ken’s sister called, amazed Ken had been sober for so long. I was so idealistic to believe after all these years the nightmare could miraculously end and Ken could be a sober new man overnight.

One day I missed seeing him. A week went by. I stopped by his trailer to check on him and there he was the same as before. His check had come in and when you’re an addict, and you’ve got money, you have no trouble getting a ride. Some of Ken’s friends would come by to check on him only at the beginning of the month. Sounds like love with a hook, doesn’t it?

Ken was like an owl, a nocturnal creature of the night. He loved to find and stay in touch with old friends and make new enemies! Each night, drunk, he’d get a bad case of what we call “black cord fever,” getting on the phone sharing jokes and keeping the social network going. He gave no consideration to who might be sleeping.

My wife, Patti and I were awakened from a deep sleep one night, the phone blaring like a fire alarm! “uhhhh…..hello?”

“Hey Bob…” his tongue thick, Ken remarked, “me and Coach Bryant are over here talking about “the great Bob, Golden Eagle linebacker turned songwriter and just wanted to call and say I love ya!”

“Bullxxxx! NO! You don’t, Ken! You love that bottle!” Don’t you ever call here again!”

I slammed the phone down, and stayed wide awake, spending the rest of the night cussin’ Ken!

I thought to myself, “The nerve! Why did I ever give that hopeless, inconsiderate jerk my phone number? He’s nothing but a nuisance. Patti, I’m sorry.”

The next day was Wednesday, the day my friend Mac and I would work out. Mac was an old college football teammate who had become a college professor at Jacksonville State University. We’d warm up for our workout by jogging around the track above the gymnasium in the Pete Matthews Coliseum.

It was summer camp time and junior high kids from all over the county were waiting for their counselors to arrive at 9 AM to get things started. Most of the kids were crowded near the front door, excited and energetic.

However, there was a loner … a precious, little girl, no taller than 4’5″ at the end of the gym trying her best to throw the large basketball through the hoop. Never mind if anyone was watching. She’d hold the ball in both hands, stoop as low and she could and with all the energy she could muster, push upward, the ball falling way short of the 10′ hoop. With amazing tenacity and determination she’d run for the ball, move back in front of the hoop and try again and again. As Mac and I would jog by, we’d cheer her on. “Hey, try it again! You can do it!” we’d shout as we’d run by.

She began looking over her shoulder for us to come by again. As soon as she’d see us again each time getting closer and closer.

“You can do it! Try it one more time!” Mac and I would shout.

Then, to our amazement the ball swooshed through the net! We began to clap, dance and cheer!

“We knew you’d make it! Way to go! You’re awesome!”

About half a lap later, I felt a deep conviction within my heart. God spoke: “Bob, you gave up on Ken. I didn’t. Go tell him he can make it. Try one more time!”

“Mac,” I said, “see ya next Wednesday, I’ve got somewhere I’ve got to go.”

Ken lived in the subculture of alcoholics. I found him in a run-­down apartment of one of the likely crowd.

“Ken, I gave up on you. God didn’t! Let’s try it one more time!”

He smiled, totally un­offended, but drunk as usual.

A few years later, Ken was serving weekends in the Oxford City Jail for a DUI conviction. The jail was really his home base. He was a stray during the week, sleeping in corners, under trees, back seat of old clunkers, an occasional night on the ragged sofas of friends from the subculture who were way beyond being embarrassed by him.

At the jail, he could shower, wash his clothes and eat regularly so when the judge ordered him to do weekends in jail, it realy was throwing brer rabbitt into the briar patch!

After Ken had suffered a stroke, his speech was impossible to understand, especially when he was drinking. One Saturday afternoon he called me from the jail. I could understand him so I knew he was sober.

All he said was, “Bob, I love Jesus and I love you!

“I love you too, Ken.” was my predictable response.

“Listen to me! he said, “I love Jesus and I love you!”

And then, without further conversation, he hung up the phone. An hour later, while washing his clothes, Ken had a massive heart attack and died.

His sister called and asked if I would share at Ken’s funeral.

“Of course,” I replied, trying to hide my immediate since of dread.

How do you eulogize someone whose life appears to have been so tragic? What comfort can there possibly be for the grown children who had been so embarrassed and hurt, the ex-­wives who may dare to show up?
What about the subculture of addicts who were sure to come? Do you tell them it’s ok to continue to live a drunken, destructive, wasted life and continue to hurt the people who love them? And if you read from the Good Book, in good conscience, can you ignore passages like Galatians 5:19 where we’re told drunks will not inherit the Kingdom of God?

Saturday afternoon, 2:30 PM, K.L. Brown’s Funeral Home Chapel was an overflow crowd, standing room only. In the parking lot were new slick, polished Cadillacs next to rusted out, barely runnin’ clunkers with worn out, jumper cables layin’ in the floor where the back seat use to be!

From dignitaries to derelicts, Ken’s life deeply touched this community. Everyone loved him, even those who had hated him! And I had the honor of sharing publicly my own love for this colorful character and in particular, his last phone call from the jail! Somehow I suspect he knew, with that call, he was giving me “fodder” for his own funeral!

The night before, while praying, contemplating, and preparing, I felt God remind me that He didn’t check in with me when He created the Universe, and He doesn’t check in with me as to who is in Heaven or not. I’m not here to judge another’s soul. I’m here simply to be available to God’s Spirit that He might bring comfort and hope to those who remain. Only His Spirit can do that! I am nothing. He is everything!

There’s so much bad in the best of us. And so much good in the worst of us! It behooves all of us not to judge.

God put His love in my heart for ragamuffins and outcasts. One of them was named Ken, and I was honored to hare a part of life’s journey with him.

As the funeral service got under way, I shared with the congregation that I knew Ken loved

“He told me enough times over the phone in the middle of the night!” I said jokingly.

Many in the audience laughed and I realized during Ken’s “black cord fever” spells, he’d been calling them too!

After the chapel service, I rode with K.L. in his hearse carrying Ken’s remains to the cemetery to continue the service at the graveside.

K.L began to laugh and told me of one eventful late night Ken had called him.

“K.L., you got any false teeth at the funeral home?” he blurted out.

K.L., half asleep, replied, “WHAT?!?!”

“Yea, I got drunk and lost my teeth. You don’t bury them perfectly good teeth do ya? Do you have some extras?”

“Yes, Ken, I do bury them. And no, I don’t have any extras.”

“Shame on you, K.L. but thanks anyway! And Roll Tide.”

I was alone driving home following Ken’s funeral service, reflecting on his life, the trail of broken relationships, the heartbreak. And the loved ones who, admit it or not, are probably relieved he’s gone.

I was grieving, realizing there’s so many more like him around us and the nightmare is escalating. Who among us, young and old alike, has not been outrageously violated by this demon called “addiction”?


Esther_Cover_emailHey Guys! You know how much I love Beth Moore! Just finished the Esther Bible study. I love all her Bible studies, but I especially love this one because of the parallels she draws between the story of Esther and current culture. She draws out the theme, it’s tough being a woman, in ways that are applicable to our struggles and build our faith. For example, a couple of the chapter titles: it’s tough being a woman in a world where beauty is a treatment and it’s tough being a woman in the tight fist of fear. That one really spoke to me! Much like the fact that God’s name is “absent” in the book of Esther, Beth focuses on the providence of God and trusting him even when we can’t see Him. . .because He is so close! I think you can see why I want to pay it forward! I want to give away my copy of Beth Moore’s Esther Bible study. SO, I’m looking for a woman who would be willing to find some friends and commit to this Bible study for 10 weeks. If that’s you, register by providing your name and email address in the comments section below this blog post. The guys and I will select a winner by 10:00 this morning! Love you all!

No-Bake Energy Bites

the plate of energy bites my daughter Abbey made

the plate of energy bites my daughter Abbey made

Here’s the recipe I found the other day….Abbey has made them 3 times now! We keep them in the fridge. They are DELISH!

No-Bake Energy Bites
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Yield: About 3 dozen

These delicious little no bake energy bites are the perfect healthy snack!

• 1 cup (dry) oatmeal (I used old-fashioned oats)
• 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
• 1/2 cup peanut butter
• 1/2 cup ground flaxseed or wheat germ
• 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
• 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
• 1 Tbsp. chia seeds (optional)
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. (Mine were about 1″ in diameter.) Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Makes about 20-25 balls.

Dear God,


Pete asked me this morning when I was going to finish my “Dear God” letter or Part 2 of what I was going to share about Chris. My first reaction was “it’s been 2 weeks, it’s probably too late now. I’ve missed my window.”  Clearly, the world has moved on (which is normal), but those of us that knew and loved him are still feeling the gaping hole of his absence. Sharing openly on the show, and here on my blog has made me super sensitive to other’s pain. More than ever before, I am keenly aware that at any given moment, countless numbers of people are experiencing pain, hurt and loss. On the flip side of that, I never want to come across as if our best friends and family are the only ones who’ve ever experienced loss. We are not.

Bottom line is this… Life is hard. And grief in the real world is hard. This particular blog post represents a group of family and friends who are still hurting.  So, I’m writing this more for us. I invite you to read, tho. Especially if you’re interested in seeing how God had to put a huge tropical storm out in the gulf to save me from my plans. – Or better yet – if you want to see Him as a loving Father who hand paints a sunset, takes care of every detail, and is Comforter to all who mourn.

Kellie is actually in Roswell now packing up Chris’s things and moving them out of the condo they lived in for barely a year. It’s been a hard week. Thanks for keeping her in your prayers.


A Girl with a bad weather attitude.
Before I write a letter to God, there’s something you need to know about me. I have serious issues with weather. It’s a love/hate relationship with me. And lots of times I base my mood/productivity/and evaluation of the success of an event based on the weather. It’s crazy, I know. I confess it. And it’s really crazy that I live in Florida. I only like the weather about 5 or 6 months of the year. I hate humidity, I hate extreme heat, and I really hate it when it feels like you can drink the moisture in the air. We call it “tropical” and I’m not talking about sunshine and sea breeze. I’m talking a sticky, suffocating, miserable, oppressive outdoor steam room.

I will say tho, we’ve had a BEAUTIFUL 1st quarter of the year. Unlike last year, we’ve had cooler weather with zero humidity. It’s truly been phenomenal!! I can only name 3 ugly weekends. Of course they were the 3 weekends I had something significant happening. It was gorgeous all of February. Until the Princess Run. It was gorgeous all of March. Until we had a Building 429 pre-CD release. And it’s been a gorgeous April. Until we planned Chris’s memorial. Sometimes I feel like my punishment from God is bad weather. Terrible theology, I know. But just being honest. Telling you all of this will make sense shortly.

Rewind to Wednesday, April 10.
I met Kellie at Anna Maria Island at the location where we would have Chris’s party. It was a beautiful afternoon, and right before sunset we launched a wish lantern to see how they’d work for Friday. They worked beautifully. That same evening Kellie told me she wanted to lay Chris’s ashes at sea on Friday, because Chris had said he wanted to do it all in the same day. After burgers on the beach, the plan was to have a friend come around in his boat, and then Kellie, the girls, Kip and our friend Rob, who would preside over Chris’s memorial service, would wade out into the water and get on the boat. They would lay Chris to rest at sea, and once she and the girls said their final goodbye to husband and daddy, I would watch for the signal back onshore, initiating the launch of the 100 wish lanterns in the sunset sky and a memorial to Chris. I could see it in my mind’s eye. It would be moving. It would be tender. It would be respectful. It would be a “moment.” And I was determined to make it happen.

our first attempt!

our first attempt!

it worked beautifully!

it worked beautifully!

Fast forward to Friday, April 12.
Remember when I mentioned earlier we’ve only had 3 bad weekends this year? Well, of the three, Friday, April 12 has been the worse. A huge tropical system was just off the coast that made the day muggy, cloudy, super windy, and just an all around horrible weather day.

I’m not proud of what I’m about to confess to you, but I want to be real. And this is real and raw. I got up on Friday morning, emotions a mixture of sadness and anger. Sad because of what we’d be doing that day. Anger because God had not healed Chris, AND because the weather was so bad. I actually made this comment to God out loud in my bathroom: “God, you took Chris from us; the least you could do is give us good weather to memorialize him the way we are hoping to!” Yep, it’s true. Terrible isn’t it? I’m glad God has a chest big enough to take our temper tantrums. I drove all the way to the church, crying and praying: “God, I don’t want to be mad at you today. Please help me.” I put on Chris Tomlin’s Burning Lights. “Jesus, Son of God” was the song I played on repeat. “At the altar of our praise, let there be no higher name, Jesus, Son of God. You laid down Your perfect life, You are the sacrifice, Jesus, Son of God. You are Jesus, Son of God….” At that moment, I focused on what I knew OVER what I was feeling. God inhabits the praises of His people, and I needed Him to inhabit me! I don’t tell you this to show you how holy I am. I am the furthest thing from it. I tell you this to show you I have a heart blacker ‘n soot sometimes.

I wrote about the Celebration of Life in “Dear Chris,” so if you’ve read that you know what an incredibly special service it really was. Hands-down the most celebratory service I’ve ever attended. Chris lived a life that preached his own funeral. And we all walked away comforted, knowing that it’s never a final goodbye for those who know Jesus. If you haven’t read “Dear Chris,” please scroll back and share the day with us.

Cut to Friday evening.
With the huge storm continuing to brew off the coast (that never made landfall, btw, nor rained on our party), and whitecaps on the water, I soon accepted the fact the “moment” wasn’t happening. At the end of the evening I went to Plan B and planned for a few us to execute the plan on Saturday, albeit on a smaller scale. Kellie was happy it never rained; I was wishing I could model her grateful attitude.

Saturday, April 13.
I went for a run, just to get some fresh air, and I received this text from Kellie: “Jim got us a bigger boat. We’ll all be able to go out. Be here by 6.”

We had never planned on being part of the laying of Chris’s ashes at sea. But in that moment, I knew instantly God was about to give us a precious gift.


Followed by tears.


Followed by more tears.


Dear God.

Dear God,

I beg your forgiveness. I am so sorry I’m such a spoiled, rotten child who constantly thinks my ways are better than Yours. Specifically, I am sorry for yelling at You yesterday about why You couldn’t give us nice weather. I have such a black heart, Jesus, and such a long way to go. Thank you that You love me in spite of me. Left to my own thoughts and strong will, I am nothing but a wrecking ball waiting to strike again.

You tell us, Lord, that our plans are not Your plans. That our ways are not Your ways. That Your ways and Your plans are better. Will I ever learn this and even more importantly, believe it? I am so so sorry, God, please forgive me. I am a wretch.

I have no words when I think about the afternoon You gave us. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything so holy. So sacred. So close to Ecclesiastes 12:7 “…for then the dust will return to earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.”

Lord, it’s almost as if you made the day just for us. It was surreal seeing Kip carry the bag to the boat. We all followed quietly behind, still trying to wrap our minds around the fact that we were saying goodbye. It still just doesn’t seem real. Chris is gone. How did this happen?

The view from the boat was breathtaking. In one direction we saw the Skyway Bridge. In the other, we saw Anna Maria Island, and yet another we saw nothing but the sea meeting the horizon. And who could forget the sunset? Your creation truly does declare Your glory.

Scott (in the water) and Pete (on the boat) trying to un-anchor us!

Scott (in the water) and Pete (on the boat) trying to un-anchor us!

God, I’m convinced you have a sense of humor! It was great comedy relief when the anchor got stuck in the sandbar!! Lord, this is SO us! Anything less than Scott having to go in the water to free our anchor wouldn’t have been true to our personalities individually, or as friends. As long as we’ve all known each other, we’ve never NOT had a Lucy or 3 Stooges moment. It actually makes us nervous if things go too smoothly. We all wanna believe that perhaps you gave Chris a quick glance at this sight. We can hear him now saying, “yep, those are my peeps! They’re trying to lay me to rest, and they’re stuck on a sandbar.” It was good to have a cathartic belly laugh in the middle of something so hard. You’ve blessed us with humor throughout the whole ordeal, usually led by Chris, so why would it be any different now?

Rob reading from the Holy Word of God.

Rob reading from the Holy Word of God.

Once unstuck, Kellie let Caroline choose the place. She chose perfectly. Now anchored properly, we all made our way to the bow of the boat. Rob opened the scriptures, and the tears began to flow. He read from Your word, Father, and we felt Your tangible presence. After spending time in Your Word, Kip removed the lid of the box and released Chris’s ashes to sea. I’ll never be able to articulate the hard and the holy in that moment. But for those of us on the boat, it will forever be written on our hearts and minds. It was “The Moment” that was suppose to happen. My moment would’ve been woefully less.

I’ll never forget hearing Kellie say, “I’m sorry girls,” as they sat holding each other, on both sides of their mother. I can hardly think about it now without crying all over again. Jim so respectfully gave us the quiet time that was needed to take in/process/live the moment. Rob read more scripture and we made the boat our altar. As I sang yesterday, “on the altar of our praise, let there be no higher name, Jesus, Son of God….” I don’t know that the ocean has ever been any of our altars. But it was today.

the ocean was our altar

the ocean was our altar

My heart is still sad and glad. Sad for all the obvious reasons. But glad for all the obvious reasons too. No question, God, You knew exactly what You were doing. And I am so sorry I didn’t trust You. Saturday afternoon was perfect. It was intimate. It was sacred. It was a good and perfect gift; an evening only You could orchestrate. Thank you for making it all that it was suppose to be. But most of all, thank you for being near to the broken-hearted.

C.S. Lewis said:

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

We weren’t made for this world, Father; we were made to be with You. Chris is home with You now. Kellie and the girls miss him. Cynthia misses him. We miss him. But until we can be where y’all are, Father, be with us, hold us, guide us, stay with us, talk with us, protect us, and on some days, we may even need You to carry us. We are your children, God, in desperate need of Your care.

Your daughter,

Thank you, John, for capturing all of these pictures.

Kip hugging Kellie after this sacred moment.

Kip hugging Kellie after this sacred moment.


We took a pic of the coordinates. And yes, Chris, we had on The JOY FM. :)

We took a pic of the coordinates. And yes, Chris, we had on The JOY FM. : )

the day that God actually had planned for us.

the day that God actually had planned for us.

and yes, we still lit some lanterns!

and yes, we still lit some lanterns!

Caroline & Kellie

Caroline & Kellie

one more!

one more!

app dumps.

I was introduced to The Pioneer Woman by my friend Becca a month of so ago. Since then, Abbey & I have bought both of her cookbooks, and have made the apple dumplings three times! Well, Abbey’s made them, and I’ve eaten them.  Can I just say they are OUT OF THIS WORLD, and I’m so not kidding! Seriously. They are the BEST apple dumplings ever. Or as Josh calls them “app dumps.” I don’t know how The Pioneer Woman will feel about us calling ‘em that, but we mean it with the utmost respect!

I’ve talked about these app dumps so much on the show, and  I just answered my umpteenth email about them, so I thought it might be a good idea to post the recipe here! Here’s the link to The Pioneer Woman’s blog. I’ve not spent a whole lot of time on there, but from what I’ve seen so far, it’s pretty spectacular!  I also see she’s written a book called Black Heels to Tractor Wheels; I’m definitely gonna read it when I’m done with 7.

Recipe for App Dumps

The Pioneer Woman's Apple Dumplings

The Pioneer Woman’s Apple Dumplings

2 whole Granny Smith Apples
2 cans (8 Oz. Cans) Crescent Rolls
2 sticks Butter
1-1/2 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
Cinnamon, To Taste
1 can (12 Oz.) Mountain Dew Soda

Preparation Instructions:
Peel and core apples. Cut each apple into 8 slices each.
Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll.
Place in a 9 x 13 buttered pan.
Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir.
Add vanilla, stir, and pour entire mixture over apples.
Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the pan.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
Serve with ice cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauces from the pan over the top.

WARNING: Prepare this dish at your own risk. It is beyond imaginable.

Oh, and I highly recommend Blue Bell Homestyle Vanilla Ice Cream. Highly. Highly. Highly recommend!

PS…In an unrelated note, I know I still owe a 2nd blog post/letter. I’ve started it. I will finish soon. Thanks so much for all of your prayers, sweet notes, and compassion for my best friend, Kellie and her family. She has surely felt them. Please keep her in your prayers this week, as she packs us the condo in Atlanta. It’s still so very hard.

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