An Open Letter to the Mom Who Feels Invisible


When I was growing up, I wanted to be one of two things- a writer or an interior designer. I love to string words together and tell stories, but I also love creating a warm, welcoming environment. I get a vision for how everything will look when a room is put together and hunt for just the right piece to complete a look.

Right now I’m in full fledged nesting mode and the interior designer in me is making herself known. I feel my internal clock counting down the days until baby Elise’s arrival, and scour countless websites looking at wall decals, valances and quilts.

My emotions soar back and forth between being stressed and elated.

I know she won’t spend her first days noticing the decor. But I also know at this stage of her life, I am expressing my love for her in one of the few ways I know how. Each stroke of the paintbrush on the wall is me saying, “We’ll be ready for you, girl. This place will be your home.”

The other day as I was surveying her room, I felt a little nudge in my spirit. I almost ignored it, but it was persistent.

You know I’m preparing a place for you too, right?

I answered without giving the question much thought. Of course I knew that. It says it in right in scripture. But I knew God wasn’t asking me to recite verses. He was getting to a deeper issue. A heart issue.

I was falling into the old, familiar habit of striving again. But I wasn’t striving toward the goal of Christ Jesus. I was striving to earn something, like I wasn’t enough. The weight of hundreds of responsibilities was crushing me, and I didn’t feel like I measured up.

Words never intended to hurt made me feel defensive and emotional. Sure, my hormones were raging but something else was raging inside too. A deep need to be seen and heard, to be acknowledged and not forgotten.

At times I wanted to scream, “Don’t you see me here? Don’t you see how hard I’m trying to be a friend, a sister, a wife and a mom?”


And as I stood there in the room we will bring our daughter home to in a few weeks, I knew what God was saying.

I see you, child. You are not invisible to me. I hear you. You don’t have to earn my love. Just rest in it.

Perhaps you’ve felt the weight of striving lately. Like there’s some invisible measuring stick between you and eternity, and you are constantly trying to reach one step higher. And higher and higher.

Perhaps you think there’s no way you’ll ever be the person God wants you to be, or the person you hope to become.

Can I tell you something? God already sees you. You don’t have to make him notice you or wave your hands in wild abandon to make him notice the heart you pour into your home, your community, your life.

He loves you so much he’s preparing a one-of-a-kind place for you. Just you. And it will be better than any nursery or family room designed by a top-notch HGTV star.

It will be perfect.

Think about the love you feel when you hold your child in your arms today. Then multiply that love by eternity. You won’t even come close to the way he feels about you.


Linking up with these communities: #ThoughtProvokingThursday

The Only Sure Way to Multiply Our Time


When the doctor told me they recommended an ultrasound at 32 weeks, my first thought was, “Do I have time for this?” I had to pick up my son from school, and they’d forgotten to schedule the procedure at my last appointment.

I decided if they were quick, I would still make it in time. Less than fifteen minutes later, I was watching the life I’d carried for the past seven months.

Don’t blink.

I looked at the tiny figure on the screen, amazed at how different her features were after just twelve weeks. She was almost ready to make her entrance into the world. I ignored the growing pressure on my bladder and enjoyed every inch of her.

The tech noticed my discomfort.

“Don’t worry hon. We’re almost done.”

“Oh, I’m fine,” I said, shifting my position slightly.

Take your time. This moment will never come again.

 After a few minutes, she finished up and wiped the sticky gel off my belly. I held the series of snapshots she’d captured, grateful to have a keepsake of this time.

Time is all we have in this life, isn’t it? And lately, pregnancy has me in a constant flux of slow down and hurry up.

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Stop the Cycle of Mom Guilt: What Our Kids Crave the Most


My kids never cease to amaze me. I love how even at a young age, they can pinpoint what’s important.

The other day I was taking my oldest son to piano and as we stopped at a red light, he piped up from the back seat.

“You know, Mama. When little Elise gets here, I’m going to hold her, and hug her, and kiss her…. And… well, that’s about it.”

I laughed out loud, knowing what he meant but utterly enjoying his cuteness. He told me about the various stages his sister would go through and how one day she will be able to chase him and his brother through the house.

He knows during the first few months of her life, cuddles and plenty of love will be the main things baby sister needs. Play will come later. Fights over toys, hopefully much later.

Aside from feeding, diaper changes, and plenty of rest, he had Elise’s needs pinned down to a tee.

It made me wonder. At what stage as parents do we forget the basics and start shaming ourselves?

The other day, I had a near panic attack because baby girl’s room wasn’t ready. I was still seven weeks from my due date, but my nesting instinct was in high gear. I scoured quilts and wall decals on Etsy, trying to find the perfect combination to create a warm, welcoming environment.

When I couldn’t match up shades of turquoise I was irritable. Then, God reminded me of scene from a few nights ago. I was getting ready for bed, and as I walked by the nursery I saw my son helping his dad convert the toddler bed back into a crib.

She will have a place to sleep. She will have food to eat and arms to hold her and comfort her when she cries. Will she care if her room isn’t perfect?

I think our guilt often stems from a misconception that our kids should have trouble-free, pain-free lives with little to no boredom and a schedule filled with activities. If we’re not carting them from one place to another and living vicariously through every victory, win and trophy, we feel empty.


But as Jen Hatmaker so aptly states in her book, For the Love, our kids’ lives are not a Nickelodeon set. Nor should they be.

There comes a point where we have to stop the cycle of shame and settle for good enough. Because when it comes to parenting, perfect doesn’t exist.

A few weeks ago I was listening to a Christian radio station and during a Focus on the Family segment, they talked about the things kids remember about growing up. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t the mistakes their parents make, the times we lose our cool or the boo-boos they got when they were two.

They remembered the bedtime stories. The time spent cuddling on the couch. The prayers and the moments just being together.

My eyes were wet with tears at the sheer simplicity of it. When did I forget?

Friends, our kids know what’s important. So when today is over and you’re sitting on the couch, shaming yourself because you were late to the practice, ask yourself this: Did I love my kid today?

It’s time we stop worrying about perfection and give them what they crave the most: ourselves.


Linking up with these communities: #RaRaLinkup

The Good We Find in the Darkness {Linkup}


I can’t sleep without white noise. Whether it’s a fan, air purifier or an app on my phone, I need that gentle hum to lull me into oblivion.

My husband travels several times a year for work, and when he’s gone I turn the noise up a notch. Every sound in the house except for that air purifier sends me into a panic.

I check the locks on the doors three or four times. I stand by the kids’ bedroom doors to make sure they’re asleep. I pace the house wondering, mind racing on overtime.

Was that a mouse in our attic? Was it a squirrel? Or was it an intruder looking for a way inside?

We live in a fairly safe neighborhood. But it only takes an hour of drama on Netflix or the latest news story to send me into high-anxiety mode.

There’s something about the darkness that makes us uncomfortable, isn’t there?

We fear what’s lurking in the shadows. We like the awareness the light brings- a sense of control, knowing what surrounds us and even what threatens us.

Recently, my family entered circumstances where the darkness was thick. I wasn’t just uncomfortable. I was on my knees in panic.

I wasn’t interested in seeing what God was trying to reveal to me through the pain or whether there was a reason for it. I wanted it to go away- period.

When I read the story of creation, I always find it interesting how God didn’t remove the darkness to create the light. Although he had the authority to do so, he didn’t expel it once and for all when he said, “Let there be light.”

No, he separated the two. It’s as though there was some plan, some purpose behind it.

Then, fast-forward a couple of thousand years and we meet Jesus- the One who calls himself The Light. He tells us in John that those who follow Him will never walk in darkness. (John 8:12)

And yet, he doesn’t banish the darkness either.

 As a matter of fact, there are situations where he allows it to enter the lives of those who walk with Him.

Don’t believe me? Look at the story of Lazarus.

When Martha sends word that her brother is dying, Jesus is only one day’s walk away. But he waits. And he doesn’t wait because he’s disillusioned about the situation. No, he has a purpose to his delay.

This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.

John 11:4 NIV

 Sometimes God allows the darkness so that his Light can be magnified.


It isn’t because he doesn’t care. He isn’t sitting on his throne, removed from our situation like he’s playing some video game. He weeps for us. (John 11:35)

He doesn’t just hurt when we hurt. As I read in a recent devotion, he hurts because we hurt.

Could Jesus have prevented Lazarus from dying altogether? Absolutely. Mary and Martha know this, and it is one of the first things they say to him when he arrives. They don’t yet see the reason for his delay. So what good comes out of his death? We see it as the story concludes.

Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

John 11:45 NIV

Like those who were with Jesus when he arrived at Lazarus’ tomb, I eventually saw that the darkness my family was walking through had a purpose. But I had to stick around and face it. I had to expect God to show up.

And do you know what? He did. In ways I never could have imagined, he showed me he was working.

Friend, I don’t know what darkness you’re walking through today. You may be running that air purifier, trying to avoid its overwhelming presence in your life.

But can I tell you something? God can use it. He can walk with you through it and magnify his Light in the middle of it.

Sometimes we just have to turn off the noise and face it.


#RaRaLinkup Time!

1. Link up your inspiring & motivating post with the button below. (The blue frog button will direct you to the linkup page.)
2. Grab the Kelly Balarie & Friends button (on the right) to display on your blog or just link back.

Linking up with these communities: #ThoughtProvokingThursday

When “I’ll Pray for You” Is An Insult


Sometimes words said with good intention can be insulting. We live in a world where it’s easier than ever to comment on a friend or family member’s trials, triumphs, and everything in-between. But do we stop to think before we insert our like, love, or laughing face?

I will be the first to say I love emojis and use them often in texts and on social media, but I often wonder what all this instant, no-thought-required communication is really doing to our ability to communicate. Take, for example, the statement, “I’ll pray for you.” Or the comment I see more often, “Thoughts and prayers!”

Now, by no means am I saying we shouldn’t pray for others. Sometimes, as I stated in my previous post, it’s all we can do. And let them know you’re praying. It can encourage a person’s heart to know there are people rallying behind them in prayer.

But what if there is something else we can do? What about the times when someone desperately needs help, and we could be the ones God uses to provide it?

There are times when I see people on Facebook crying out for help. Sometimes, it’s a home that’s flooded and they need a place to stay. Or they’re sick and could really use a hot meal. The possibilities are endless.

If we have the resources and ability to help the person in need, are we really displaying the love of Christ by saying “I’ll pray for you,” and then carrying on with our lives? While I’m certain God is all-powerful and able to swoop down, make the person some soup and deliver it to their front door, do you think maybe that’s what he’s called us to do instead?


When Jesus walked the earth during his earthly ministry, he prayed. A lot. He and the Father were in constant communion and he often removed himself from others completely so he could be alone in prayer.

But I don’t recall a single time when someone walked up to him, begging for help, food or shelter, and he said, “I’ll pray for you.” He knew there was a time to pray and a time to act, and he wasn’t going to mislead others by confusing the two.

John, who was with Jesus during most of his ministry, says it like this:

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

1 John 3:18 NIV

Friends, prayer was never intended to be used as an excuse for inaction. And I am convicted. I am guilty of turning the other way when I know God was asking me lend a helping hand, but he is showing me that if we are to be his hands and feet, we must act. We must move. We must do something other than say, “I’ll pray for you.”

I know there are seasons when we are stretched thin between little ones, jobs and other responsibilities. Prayer may truly be the best we have to offer. I know there are also times when we aren’t the best person to help.

But if we are constantly turning the other way, we need to reevaluate. We need to take a long hard look at ourselves and ask the question every person who attended VBS as a kid knows: What would Jesus do?

I can guarantee you, he would do more than sit. Let’s follow his example and do the same.


Linking up with these communities: #RaRaLinkup, #IntentionalTuesday

3 Truths About God to Remember When You Can’t Stop Worrying


The news took my breath away. With one quick phone call, our lives changed.

A family member was in trouble, and it was the kind where no one could help. As I looked out the window and listened to my Dad on the other end of the phone with tears streaming down my face, I knew God had taken the situation out of our hands.

All of our attempts to control and prevent a worst-case-scenario had come to this, and it was as if He was saying, “It’s in my hands now.”

After hanging up the phone, I sat in the recliner for over twenty minutes and tried to pray. But every time I attempted to utter words, I was paralyzed. My mind circled endless what-if scenarios, and my fear of the unknown kept me mute.

Frustrated, I got up and took a hot shower, hoping to clear my head. As I was toweling off, I recalled the following verse.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

I often look at scripture like this and think, “Yeah right. How is that even possible?”

But on a day when my world seemed to be crumbling around me, I thought, “What if every time my mind went to worry, I prayed instead?”

Hard? Yes. Possible. Very much so, if we persevere.

Friends, we have any enemy who loves nothing more to exploit our weaknesses during times of trouble. If you’re prone to worry, he’ll take a troublesome situation and fill your mind with every worst-case-scenario possible.

But you know what? Satan does not control our minds. We do. And we can choose to believe the lies the father of them suggests or we can fill our minds with truth. We can pray. We can bring all of our anxiousness and pain to the one who knows the end of the story.


There is a reason I felt so paralyzed when I tried to pray. Prayer is a powerful weapon, and our enemy would rather us not use it.

If you’re stumbling around, looking for a starting point, here are 3 truths to remember and guide your prayers:

  1. God is sovereign. Regardless of whether or not it appears so, God is in control. He has a plan. It may seem as though everything is falling apart, but he is aware of the situation and is working through your prayers.
  1. God is a Redeemer. It may take years. It may take a lifetime. But God can redeem this story. He can use this mess and make it a testimony of his grace and goodness. If there are other people involved, it will take a willing heart on their part, but God loves to take the ashes of our lives and turn them into something beautiful.
  1. God loves you and the people involved. Many of us heard this as kids. We know John 3:16 and learned the song “Jesus Loves Me” when we were little. But when trouble comes, we doubt. We wonder where He is and why these things are happening. We live in a fallen, painful and often chaotic world and while God’s hand may not always seem evident, his love is still steady and constant.

When storms come, our natural instinct is control. We want to fix it. We want things to change and go according to plan. But often the situation is taken out of our hands and we’re left clenching our fists.

You know what? We can still do something. And it’s the most beautiful, powerful step we can take.

Our strongest weapon against the darkness is the one we use on our knees.


Linking up with these communities: #ThoughtProvokingThursday

The Question Every Dreamer Asks: God, Should I Continue?


I didn’t want the open the email. The subject line said it all.

“Thank you…”

After a few years pursuing this writing stuff, I knew what those two words meant.

“Thank you but no thank you.”

“Thank you but this doesn’t meet our needs at this time.”

“Thank you, and please try again.”

My finger hovered over the delete button before sending the words off into cyber space oblivion. I opened the Word document for an article I was finishing and the cursor blinked, mocking me.

Why do you continue with this craziness? It’s not going anywhere. You’re wasting your time.

I slammed the laptop shut and busied myself with chores. At least I could do something right. After an hour the laundry was done, the dishes were put away and I was ready to pick up my youngest from school. And I was on time, a tiny miracle all by itself.

But I still couldn’t get the nagging voices of doubt out of my head. I knew instead of mulling over the situation and getting nowhere, I should bring it before God.

Do I continue to pursue this dream, God? Is this something you want?


I was deathly afraid the answer would be “no,” but I asked anyway. I needed to know, one way or the other.

Sometimes when we come face to face with our fears, God speaks to us through a friend. Other times it’s through a song or a sermon.

The ways He speaks are as limitless as He is, but he’s always trying to reach our hearts.

On this particular day, He spoke to me through a story. And this storyteller loves stories.

It takes place during the years of the Old Testament when Samuel led the Israelites, and they’re facing an intimidating enemy who won’t stop pursuing them: the Philistines. In a moment of desperation Samuel cries out to God, and God delivers the Israelites from battle. (1 Samuel 7:9)

While this victory was impressive all by itself, God doesn’t stop there. Scripture tells us that for the the rest of Samuel’s reign, God suppresses the Philistines and there is peace.

To celebrate their victory, Samuel doesn’t just praise God and thank Him. He doesn’t count his blessings and move on. He builds a memorial.

He builds an altar to the Lord and names it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:12)

As I read over this testimony of God’s faithfulness, I knew what God was asking me to do.

Stop focusing on the mountain in front of you and look at what I’ve brought you through.

We often get so focused on the obstacles, the next hurdle or project that we forget how far we’ve come. We forget to celebrate. We forget to slow down and take stock of the blessings God has poured into our lives.

I don’t know about you, but I need to stop obsessing over roadblocks and start building altars. More reminders that even when the cards seem stacked against me, God is faithful.

If I could attain each goal on my own, I wouldn’t need God. I wouldn’t need faith. And God wouldn’t get the glory, which is why I went down this crazy path in the first place.

Friend, the next time God brings you through a battle, remember to stop and take notice. Then, create a reminder. Build an altar, write it in your journal, or mark the date on your calendar. Do whatever it takes to commit it to memory.

The next trial will surely come, but we can face it with sureness of God’s power.

When we remember what God helped us overcome, the mountain in front of us goes from threatening to surmountable.



Congrats to Elaine Tomasello! You are the winner of last week’s giveaway and will be receiving a smart power bank and Hope & Joy mirror keychain! I will be contacting you soon to get your shipping info. Thanks for reading!