Top Blog Posts and Articles from 2013


2013 was somewhat a year of sweet survival for me as we welcomed baby #4 (and my husband gutted our entire master bath and remodeled it – yep he’s amazing). So far 2014 is shaping up similarly (still in survival mode and sleep deprived) but that’s okay. In 2013, I was able to post about once a month and submitted 3 articles for online publications. I wrote mostly about motherhood and marriage. While I wasn’t able to blog a whole lot, I’m grateful for the moments of solitude I did have!

Here are the Top Blog Posts according to hits:

1.) What to do With Miley

2.) A Surprise Baby!

3.) You Might be a Stay-at-Home Mom to Four Kids, 4 & Under If…

4.) A Letter to My Son, On Manhood, Mission, & Meaning in Life

5.) Help Us Name Our Baby!

6.) One Fact in Motherhood: Some Days Everything Falls Apart


Here are the Top Articles according to Facebook Shares 

1.) 8 Non-Negotiables for Dads with Daughters –

2.) 5 Words that Could Mean Life or Death to Your Marriage –

3.) I Love You, But How Do I Like You? –

I’m excited for the experiences and stories God will give me this year to write about. In case you missed some of the above, I hope you get a chance to read them. I appreciate you!

New Article: 5 Words That Could Mean Life or Death to Your Marriage

Last week was an exciting week being able to share an article I wrote that was inspired by a photo I saw. It was a blessing to hear from readers on Start Marriage Right and

If you haven’t read it yet I hope you will be encouraged as well.

A few weeks ago, my friend Charity wrote on Facebook that a photo of her friend’s grandparents had made The Huffington Post. I clicked on the link and saw the breathtaking image of this husband and wife. I was instantly caught up in the beauty and tragedy of it.

I imagined what was going through the wife’s mind as she held the fragile hand of her dying husband. I imagined the memories they shared together—the joys and challenges. I imagined the birth of their first child and raising a family in their home. I pictured his strength and her beauty at a young age…

Continue Reading…

How Our Life Together Began at the River {An Engagement Story}

We’d been walking for a few miles. The humidity was thick and my jeans stuck to my sweaty legs. It was our fourth day in Israel and Jordan and my boyfriend Jeremiah and I were with our seminary professor and classmates, visiting and learning about all the sites Jesus once walked. We were so excited to see the Jordan River for the first time. Both having grown up in the church, we had learned about it all our lives, and now we finally got to experience it.

We arrived at the bank of the Jordan and it was more narrow than I thought. I sat my backpack down on a rock so I could take pictures with friends. After a few minutes, I went back over to my bag to get my hairbrush out which was so random because I normally wouldn’t stop and brush my hair in a moment like this. When I reached for the front pocket, I stumbled upon a small black leather box with white stitching on it.

What is that? I wondered. Then something clicked and I was sure I knew. My heart raced. Was this really it?

Jeremiah rushed over and took the box as if I wasn’t supposed to see it in my bag. He looked really nervous and excited.

He smiled, opened the ring box, and got down on one knee. I started giggling.

“Samantha, just as John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River and it represented the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, I want this to represent our new life together in marriage. Will you marry me?

I laughed some more and started crying.

Jordan River 2“Yes! Yes!”

He slid the ring on my finger and it fit perfectly. We hugged and kissed and I couldn’t stop smiling.

Our professor captured the proposal along with some of our friends. I finally took the time to really look at the ring and I couldn’t believe it. It was beautiful, classy, big, round, and flawless. During our 7 months of dating I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at rings. Jeremiah and I had shopped a few times for fun but I figured if he knew me well enough, he would know what I liked. And did he ever! I couldn’t stop looking at it. Its brilliant sparkle reminded me that life was certainly about to change. I would get to spend the rest of my life with the one I loved. The one God had given to me.

I was on cloud nine on the trail back to our bus. I couldn’t believe how he got me and surprised me out of nowhere. He had asked my dad for permission to marry me a few weeks before the trip when we were visiting my parents in Texas. I thought for sure he would have popped the question after Israel. But he carried the ring on the plane, through customs, security, several hotels, and excursions for four days. Needless to say he was happy to have the surprise off his chest. I thought more about how it couldn’t have been more perfect to be engaged right where we were.

Our next stop happened to be the Dead Sea, often called the Salt Sea, which borders Jordan to the East. A classmate offered to hold my ring while Jeremiah and I went for a dip with everyone. We floated on top of the water and it refreshed our souls from the intense middle eastern heat. Jeremiah held me in his arms and it was as if the world had stopped. The embrace of my future husband was all I need. I was going to be his and he would be mine. I had given my word to him, my promise. Our wedding day and new life together was on the horizon.Jordan River 1

Looking back on that significant day eight years ago {June 4, 2005} brings me nothing but great joy. There are those moments in life that God gives and you feel nothing but his sweet presence, where his love for you is absolutely overwhelming. It’s almost as if he gives you a little taste of the perfection that will be awaiting in heaven.

Jeremiah and I knew from the beginning that our relationship wasn’t just about us, but what God was doing and he has always confirmed that in our hearts. I have believed that all these years. In December we will celebrate our eight year wedding anniversary.

Before marriage, we had no idea the trials that would come our way. We didn’t quite grasp the hard work that’s required to be one as a couple and how we would have to fight daily against our selfish, sinful natures. We wouldn’t learn all of this through a book or classroom but by sitting in the school of experience.

We also had no idea how God would fashion and shape us more like him and give us the sweetest, most precious gifts we have ever tasted within the sacred covenant of marriage: unity, servanthood, companionship, fulfillment, purpose, passion, sexual intimacy, friendship, forgiveness, satisfaction, mission, the blessing of children, and unconditional love just to name a few. We had no idea how God would show us the true meaning of sacrificial, * till death we do part * love and commitment. And we are praying by God’s grace that he will give us many more years to have together.

There’s no doubt that the love I have towards my husband is deeper and wider than when I said “yes!” It is a different kind of love yet it is still the same. We are still the same people we were then yet we’ve changed and grown in so many different ways. Today on our engagement anniversary my heart is grateful for God’s faithfulness.

Through the calm and the storms in our lives, He has always been faithful just as he was that day on the river.

New Article: I Love You, But How Do I Like You?

0035This week, I’m over at Start Marriage Right sharing some practical thoughts on loving your spouse for the long haul.

After my husband asked me out on our first date, we were inseparable. We couldn’t get enough of each other’s company. Our dating days were filled with joy, delight, anticipation, passion, and little conflict. But after we got married, into the newlywed years and beyond we started to grow familiar with each other… 

Read the rest on Start Marriage Right

Contributing to the Book, Take the Date Night Challenge by Greg & Erin Smalley

888243oLast week Focus on the Family contacted me and asked permission to publish part of my article, Missional Marriage: 10 Practical Ways to Serve Other People, in their upcoming book Take the Date Night Challenge by Greg and Erin Smalley.

The book is based off the Focus on the Family event, “The Date Night Challenge.”

First, I’m super excited and grateful for this opportunity because I love contributing to good books. Second, I’m a huge fan of the Smalley’s and we have a lot of books on our shelf written by Gary Smalley. And third, this book is going to be a great read that will apply directly to our marriages. I don’t know about you, but my husband and I have really needed some ideas to freshen up our date nights. And we’ve actually been a little slack lately on making sure we’re going on date nights consistently.

I look forward to reading the different ideas and tools so that our date nights can be more creative and fun. It will release in a few months and I’ll most likely do a review and giveaway so stay tuned!

7 Years of Marriage, Newtown & Faith for the Future

Well today marks seven years that I’ve been married to my husband Jeremiah. It’s crazy how much life can change in just seven years and honestly it really doesn’t feel like that many years have passed by.

I’m grateful for the gift of marriage. God continues to use marriage to sanctify me, show me my sin, and teach me selflessness. Daily, I’m humbled that God gave me such a loving, hard-working, godly, selfless leader to follow, who I proudly call my husband. Just like any other couple, we’ve had our share of struggles and trials but God has been faithful through every step and we give him glory for all that he has done.

We are committed to one another till death do us part and we will continue to do what it takes to keep our marriage from merely surviving to thriving. And we have learned over seven years that this is hard work.

Just last night, we were watching the CNN vigil for the community of Newtown, Connecticut. We heard President Obama’s thoughtful speech and watched the slideshow of photos of the children and adults whose lives were taken from this world on Friday.

And I wept in Jeremiah’s arms. Tears were all I had. Tears for those precious children and for our nation as a whole. I thanked God that I had someone to grieve with. My heart ached and I longed for Jesus’ return. I asked the “why’s?” and dealt with the anger.

And today, on our anniversary, that ache is still very present. I’m celebrating these past years with my husband but I’m also praying that God would heal our nation and comfort grieving Newtown. I’m praying that the next seven years Jeremiah and I will have a fervency in our faith like we’ve never had before.

There is work to be done and it starts with us. It starts with the church, whom God uses as a means to bring light into the darkness. And I have needed this wake-up call out of mediocrity and waiting for others to start the conversation.

I want to love louder and unashamedly share the gospel.

There is no other choice and as Obama had said in that speech, “we can do better” as a nation. But I also know that the church can do better too and that it starts with me.

My prayer is that the next seven years will be less about “us and our marriage” and more about Christ and his kingdom and how he can use us to make a difference. Time is running out in reaching this world with the hope that is found in Christ.

And I think more than anything that is where the real ache inside me is coming from.

Until then I hope you will join me and take a look at your own faith and life and how God might use your time, talent, and treasure to make an impact in this world. I promise to do my best to encourage and spur you on as we seek God’s will together as broken, feeble people yet nonetheless people who have been radically changed by Christ.

A Letter to My Single Self

Dear Self:

You’re 21. You just graduated from college but, to your dismay, after four years of rigorous studies, you never got your MRS degree. All your roommates had serious boyfriends who became husbands, but you’re still wondering when it’s your turn.

You’ve dated some really good guys but nothing serious ever came about. You’re remembering the advice from your dad who said you didn’t need a serious boyfriend in college. But… college is over. You’re on your way to Nashville for a publishing internship and you’re praying God will bring you someone special.

Well at this season in your life, if I could have a heart-to-heart conversation with you over coffee (or rather tea—your Starbucks addiction won’t come until you have a newborn), there are just a few things I’d say to you while you’re still single…

Continue reading over on

30 Things I Know Now That I’m 30

Well, it’s true friends. As of today, my 20s are behind me like a vapor in the wind. It’s surreal to say and I’ve been a bit nervous to approach this day, but so far it’s going well.

My 20s were some of the best years of my life. I graduated from college, got my Master’s, ran a marathon, started my writing career, married my husband, moved across the country, landed a real job, bought a house, became a Momma to three children 3 and under (whoa!) and more. There is so much to be grateful for.

The following is a random list of things off the top of my head that I know to be true about myself, faith, and life coming out of my 20s. Maybe you’ll find some things to be true if you’re no-longer-in-your-twenties.

1. All of life really comes down to two things: Know Jesus and make him known

2. Don’t cast judgment or assume something about someone until you know more of the story

3. Fear and worry do nothing for you except cause stress and unnecessary problems

4. Working out and staying fit is a non-negotiable

5. When you get older, you start to see the sad reality of death & disease more

6. Life doesn’t get any easier. In fact, it gets harder with more responsibility

7. Marriage to my husband is my favorite thing in life

8. Switching from a PC to a Mac has made life so much easier

9. I hear my mom’s voice in my head and quote her with my own children

10. It’s impossible to live life in isolation. We were created to know others and be known and loved in return

11. Celebrating my child’s birthday is way more fun than my own

12. Starting a family and sharing my children with my parents, sister’s family, and in-laws brings so much joy

13. The people you hang out with is who you’ll become so choose your friends wisely

14. God uses pain and suffering in our life to make us like Him and to trust him more fully

15. I was the perfect mother (parent) until I became one

16. You can’t trust your wavering feelings but you can trust truth. Always side with truth.

17. My parents are the wisest, most loving people I know

18. Driving a mini-van isn’t so bad after all

19. Being a mother is the greatest, most challenging calling

20. This world needs to see more married couples who love each other, have fun, and are committed to one another for life

21. Comparing yourself to someone else is foolish. God made you unique and has a purpose for your life

22. Coffee is a necessity in motherhood

23. Good relationships and friendships require vulnerability and authenticity

24. My husband should receive several crowns in heaven for putting up with me, especially on the “ugly” days

25. Asking for forgiveness and forgiving others must happen daily

26. It’s okay to dream big, but don’t forget to enjoy where you are and what you have in the present

27. Facebook is awesome but so addicting

28. Being intentional is a must to get anywhere in life

29. To lead is to serve & love well

30. 30 sounds so much older than 29!

What would you add to the list?

Article: Kitchen Wars

* Today I’m writing for on conflict, love, and the power of the gospel in your marriage. *

After a long day of traveling home from this particular summer vacation, my husband Jeremiah and I got into a big argument. We were over-tired and not thinking straight. Words flew carelessly in the air and we threw verbal punches at each other.

Shortly after the conflict, I reflected back on one of the evenings during our vacation that Jeremiah watched the kids so I could hear Christian songwriter Sara Groves in concert where we were staying.

In between songs Sara told usContinue Reading over on

Trust, Truth & Sexual Purity in Your Marriage

“What words come to your mind when you think of trust?” 

I asked my husband while we were driving down the road the other day. I told him how I wanted to write my next article on trust.

While he thought about the question for a little bit, I chimed in: “Because you know, marriages fail or succeed based on trust. What’s the point of being married if you can’t trust the other person?”…

Today, I’m talking honestly about sexual sin and healing in marriage. Continue reading over on and feel welcome to share your thoughts.

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