Everyone is Searching

On our quietest morning of 2020 (as our kids were at the Grands for a visit and the voices of pain had calmed in my body), my husband Greg and I headed out to the beach. Out here on the fossil gray sand as waves lap the shells and shore, everyone is searching for something. 

The tiny birds are pecking at mussels as seagulls soar overhead waiting for something to jump in the foamy waves. A shrimp boat trolls by ever so slowly, nets cast and ready to bring the catch to market. Behind it, dolphins spiral and leap, seeking a bonus bounty from the shrimp and fish the nets leave behind.

Here on the shore a young boy with a shovel scoops up sand and dumps it immediately, likely looking for that perfect shell. A retired pap follows behind, watching in awe as the next generation of his last name wanders through the waves in wonder. 

A toned runner swishes by in wind pants, searching for that runners high. Behind him, a young woman who reminds me of myself at a healthier season of my life comes up breathing in rhythm, searching for that same feeling as the feet that pounded the sand yards ahead of her. 

The pair of retired friends who power walk past are deep in conversation about their kids and grandchildren. College aged friends search for the just right spot to lay out their towels and soak up the glorious October sun. 

Greg is at the waters edge, net in one hand, sifting so precisely through sand with the other. He is searching for sharks teeth and will not rest until he has found an adequate amount. 

I am plopped on a chair, humming “No Longer Slaves” and soaking it all up. This still, quiet rhythmic morning in coastal Carolina is calling to me. To search for what I need, not for what anyone else here on this beach or in this world is. To search for the delights and blessings God has for me in this season of physical and mental healing. To be okay with not cruising along in my Altras and to be okay with not being soaked by wave after wave of cool water. To just be here in the moment God has given me and to enjoy it. I am happy.

Everyone is searching. No, we are not all searching for the same thing whether it is here on this beach morning or in our daily lives. But if all search for God to be present as we seek his blessings, we will easily find what He has planned for us uniquely and beautifully in each moment. 

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I pray a life like that is what you will search for. A life of abundance specifically intended for you. Plans that include a hope and a future. 

Everyone is searching. Start with the right thing first and all the other things will come your way. God bless!

Finding My Identity: The Road Back to You

As laid back as I was the last six months, you’d think that I’d have a whole pile of books to share thoughts about. One of those books, “The Road Back to You” had been on my radar since when things started to tumble back in June.

I truthfully just sunk back, watched way too much TV, played way too much “Township”, and spent time in the comparison trap reading other blogs and wishing mine could be at that level. Instead, I should have been reading and growing and not worrying about what others are doing and being the person God intended me to be.

I was stuck trying to find my identity! I know that sounds totally crazy, I should know at 36 years old who I am, especially as a Christian woman. Bottom line, I am a child of God, but I forgot that being that is enough. Instead, I was trying to figure out what I can bring readers of my websites, what tactics I could use in my Thirty-One business to grow it, and what God had in store for me with life in general…and I was doing it by just scrolling through pages and pages of what others had been blessed with.

Taking the Test

Not long after my life sort of came to a crashing halt physically and mentally, a friend suggested I take the Enneagram test. I searched online and found a free one (which if you haven’t done, I’ll let you do for yourself – I’m no expert and am not sure which site to suggest + you can pay for some if you want more detailed info). My results are pretty much right in line with who I *think* I am and weren’t really surprising.

…but I’m also not letting a number on the scale (whether it is a personality test or my weight) tell me who I am. John 1:12 and Jeremiah 1:5 tell me that. So the number tells me things I know, how I work with people, what stresses me, etc. And that is okay! Understanding yourself if perfectly fine (we’re actually charged to in I Corinthians 11:28-31). Changing yourself to align with a “number” you’d rather be? Not so much.

A Number…Now What?

Once I had my Enneagram number, I took my friend’s advice a little further and read a book she reccommended. There are a ton out there, but I opted to go with her reco because one of the authors is a pastor. In reading The Road Back to You, I dove into chapters on each of the nine personality types. As I read the words of each type, people close to me came to mind. Each chapter gave me gems on how to work alongside them and a little better understanding of how they’re “wired”.

Road Back to You

Did you know I have my degree in Psychology? Yup. So you’d think that I’d probably read this book and just be like “yeah, yeah, we know this”. The thing was, The Road Back to You brought me a fresh perspective with each word.

Interested in having a read yourself? Pick up a copy here and get it by the weekend.

And the hardest chapter to read? The chapter about me. I had been reading this book while on vacation in October (and even shared it in my “what I’m reading” post), but I just couldn’t get past the words about me. I didn’t feel convicted or lost or angry. I just didn’t feel and that didn’t sit well with me. It might have been my sign that it was time to get up and own the life that people with my number strive for because I simply wasn’t being that person and I knew it.

Crazy? Maybe a little, but so true. The words in “The Road Back to You” resonated with me from start to finish and helped me pull myself up off the couch away from the “at my worst” side and back into the “at my best” side of my number.

So What is Next?

I’m planning on checking out the associated Study Guide and possibly the companion book about relationships, “The Path Between Us”. And, as others in my personality type do, I’ve got goals set for the year (I’ve met some already) and will be working toward that more normal version of me. God’s loved me through the good days and the bad, but I wasn’t living up to what he designed me to be for the past few months. With a new year and a new decade just days old, I’m excited to dive headfirst into His plan (and share it with you, of course).

Have you read this book or taken the Enneagram? What are your thoughts?

Torn Down

I took this picture yesterday with a totally different idea in mind, definitely not a blog post, maybe a little something on my Instagram but not a full out post. The plan was to promote my Thirty-One business because all the fall is here and it is so pretty and goes great with the sugar free cinnamon Dunkin I was sipping while starting my VIP group post.

But then I looked closer and I could see the sadness I am carrying in those eyes hidden behind those sunglasses that were totally not needed because the skies are gray. Those glasses were holding the tears that were in my eyes and the redness around my eyebrows back from the view of the people who support my business. The people who support my family by buying bags and people who have become part of something more for me. I was trying to hide and just push another product.

Instead, I’ve decided that photo needs to go beyond my group or my Instagram followers. The chapter of my story right now needs to be shared.

Torn Down

On a Sunday filled with the goodness of hearing a sweet friend sing my favorite song while birds chirped and clouds passed overhead as my church family worshipped in the park, I was facing so much doubt. No. Struggling with so much doubt.

On a Sunday when I should feel built up, I was torn down three times. The battle with my spirit is so real right now. I’m ready to give up my fight and come off my wall. But when I’m told how I should be, it is tough. Whether it is the clothes I wear, the choices I make, or the hair over my lip, I shouldn’t feel like I have to answer to anyone.

After two incidents happened to tear me down, my husband gave me a break and we canceled plans so I could get some alone time…and that is when I let a third person tell me who I should be – a woman without hair on her face. I had no idea my eyebrows, lips, or chin needed the attention they got and while I am thankful that I got cleaned up, it also hurt and I’m not talking about the pain of wax peeling 10+ tears of light blonde hairs off the tenderest parts of my skin.

I’m talking about a deep pain where you try to be the right person for everyone over and over. Where you try to conform to some mold of what your society or religion thinks you should be when in the end what matters is having things right with God the Father, Jesus the Son, and Holy Spirit. Nothing else matters, but oh can it hurt.

In the midst of this, I found myself listening to “Good and Loved” over and over, trying to remind myself that I am loved but goodness is it hard right now. And this is just one day in almost a year of painful attacks – some I haven’t talked about but maybe need to so people can understand how much their opinions hurt.

As much as I want to be a good role model to my children and the people around me, the truth is that I can’t. I am an imperfect person who makes mistakes. And right now, I’m learning that sometimes I have to dig deep in these moments to find God’s grace and goodness…but it is there.

If you’re in the depths of something, just remember that God set the stars and planets exactly where they are and He loves you. It is not easy (my hands are raised high in agreement), but lean into God’s love and know He cares for you deeply. That is what I am doing, even in these hard moments. So Will I.

What a Month

Let’s start with a caution warning. It is going to get a little real around here today.  I’ll also be talking about my current physical health and it could be a bit TMI for you guys – be warned. This post contains affiliate links. 


The month of June 2019 just might go down as the month that really resonated with my word of the year, COURAGE. At first, I thought it was going to be rough because of some physical stuff I was going through, but oh I had no idea what was to come in that first week.

Let’s start with the physical – I might circle back to the mental/emotional struggle this month has been soon, but it’s not exactly my story to tell. No, it is not my knee. On May 28, I found out I just have a big wad of arthritis in it. Surprise, it hasn’t really been bugging me now that this has happened…

I have an ovarian cyst.

Okay, so ovarian cysts are actually very common in women – most women won’t even know that they have them and they usually cause no harm. In my case, I have one that started to cause some issues on May 29.

It began as a cramp in my right side about 30-40 minutes after eating, so I started to think that it was something with my gallbladder. I stopped eating the Keto diet and the pain didn’t go away – it just got worse. On June 3, I started spotting (3 days after my last cycle had ended) and by Tuesday was having one of my heaviest periods ever (hello, KotexU AllNighter Ultra Thin Pads in bulk) that lasted for eleven days. And by Tuesday night,  I was in so much pain that I could barely walk or talk – so we headed to the ER and waited for some tests.

Although a CT Scan showed the important results, the ER couldn’t find the source of my pain and sent me home with a diagnosis for an enlarged spleen. I was back the next day – so cold, the pain had moved to a focused area on my left side of my lower back, and I could barely breathe. This time I was told that my CT Scan showed a 5.7 cm ovarian cyst and that I needed to talk to gynecology – discharged again.

By Friday, I was done and needed to get more attention so we went to West Penn’s ER where they told me I was constipated (duh, I’d been on percocet for four days) and oh BTW have endometrial polyps. This was said oh so casually on my discharge that I lost my cool and begged to see someone from gynecology to tell me what that meant.

When you go back to my original report, you would see that I have an 11.5mm endometrial lining and polyps + an ovarian cyst that was measuring between 5.7 and 6.7 cm on the two different hospital machines. The next a gyno could see me was July through AHN or late June with ABC Women’s. Through prayer, I got in last Friday (6/13) and was told we need to get surgery scheduled + a D&C (that procedure was recommended at the West Penn ER but they wanted to wait for the cyst to grow or burst).

At this point, the soonest I can be seen in the OR is July 18. That’s another 29 days of pain. And when I tell you pain, I mean this 10,500+ steps a day mama is struggling to get 3,000 steps a day. I have to hold back tears on hour long conference calls. I can’t pick up the twins without feeling strained. And did I mention that I am tired. Super tired. Sigh.

I know that God is in control and is fighting for me – would you have a prayer or two for me throughout the next few weeks for healing?

Another March 6

I promised I would never forget her, that I’d keep doing what I could to be sure the legacy and her faith would live on. And today, another March 6, is a day I’m going to talk about her.

Wendy might only have been days shy of 17 when she passed, but this woman had a huge impact on my teenage heart.

We were in first grade together – finding clay on the playground, mixing food dye into icing to test color combinations, and writing our first spelling words. Years later, in tenth grade, we were reunited by a work of God that was just in time for her diagnosis. I got to watch my best friend go through hell on earth with a smile all over her face and strength that never wavered.

It was her faith that got her through the cancer treatments. It was her faith that got her to remission. It was her faith that we clung to when she got that final diagnosis and said her final goodbyes.

Wendy was a true example of faith, hope, and love. When people ask me why I keep trudging on even when the going seems tough, I need to remember to tell them about her. She is the reason I move forward on the bad days – because I can’t imagine that what I am “going through” could even touch what she did and she did it with a smile.

She went back to high school even when she was sick. She lived a pretty darn near normal teenage life. She dated. She was a staple in our youth group and made us laugh, laugh out loud.

And if she did all those things while fighting her battle, I sure can get up and face my “tough” days.

I’ve lived a whole extra lifetime and am two years into the third since I lost her on earth. I’ve been given the chance to have a family, a career, and pretty good health. And I’m going to make sure that every day is a tribute to her strength and her faith and take each day as a blessing from God.

Here we are, Wendy. Another March 6 without you. You’re free of pain and I sure hope you’re smiling down on us. We love you – even the “we” that didn’t get to meet you.

2019 Word of the Year: Courage

Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting

Source: Take Courage, Bethel Music

2019 has been ushered in! For the Willis house, it happened quietly, just like any other night would. Except nights around here have been different – the mister and I go to sleep at the same time (by 11 PM) and most days he is out of bed before me. This new reality (as I’ve lovingly joked) is actually quite blissful. So we were asleep by 11 and woke when it was time for him to be at work. Bliss.

Each year, I like to proclaim a word of the year to set on my heart. It helps me to focus my thoughts, my prayers, and my decisions. This year will be no different.

2019 Word of the Year: Courage

Whoa, right? Courage. This coming from a woman who has conquered quite a few things – worked her childhood dream job as a teacher, survived two years of a mentally and physically abusive relationship, was a single mom, fell in love, had more babies, lost many pounds, fell into a true dream job, ran many miles, speaks about her faith – this woman needs courageYup. I do. 

You see, the last quarter of 2018 threw us some curve balls that we didn’t see coming. I mean, God had been planning something big but we had no idea that would mean me failing the test that would have made me a wee bit more advantageous out on the job market and then coming back to work to find out I needed to be on the job market. But God has plans and this was a blessing and a half of a plan.

Greg dove in head first to a complete career change when we got this news. He saw it as his time to step into something a little uncomfortable and will test next week to become a CNA (he’s working now as a Nursing Assistant) at a care facility in Kittanning which means we have our evenings together and slashed a good $400 a month out of our gas budget. Glorious. And not just the money – this man is motivated to wake up and serve for his family and the residents he works with. It is truly a blessing to watch him grow.

And me? I’ve joined M&S Consulting (based in Morgantown, WV) and am a Salesforce Consultant which means every day there could be something new and different on my plate, depending on my client’s needs. But I get to work from home or on-site with my clients which is making for some changes for the kiddos – we’ll be hiring a mama’s helper to get the kids on the bus and to pre-k starting at the end of this week. Travel starts soon and we’re all a little nervous about the changes but excited.

It will take courage to make all these wheels turn, so I figure what a great word to set as my word of the year for 2019.

Oh, But There’s More

The word doesn’t stop at needing courage for the changes, because truthfully we are about six weeks in (how did time fly?!?!). Courage is going to come into play in many ways…I’ll be running at least one more half marathon this year (watch for a BIG announcement on that) and now that I don’t commute I feel all these words will come out of my brain and onto the computer. Not sure what that means yet – more blog posts? a book? more speaking? Not sure, but there is something that is going to take courage to put on paper and this is the year. I feel it.

And it doesn’t stop at me. Courage is going to flow through our family – courage to step up in sports, at school, at work. Courage to be bold about our faith and our love for all people. And that means all of you reading this. Yep, there are already some special prayers on our hearts for some of our friends and family who need 2019 to be an amazing year and then some.

Take Courage

That song that I started this post out with – “Take Courage” – it proclaims that God is in the waiting. I watched a video interview with Kristene DiMarco, writer of this song and she mentioned 2 Chronicles 20:17 where Jehosophat was told he did not have to fight the battle, that God would deliver. She goes on to say that this is a language of hope, and goodness, isn’t it? Courage in the waiting is big, that triumph that is unfolding is even bigger!

Exodus 14:14

It confirmed a verse that’s been on my heart since October 4 – “The Lord will fight for you, you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:14).  And He is. He rescues us so that we can rise to victory, if we just lean in and let Him unfold his plans. If we don’t let our words and thoughts get in His way. And I am standing just a little taller here on January 1 to tell you that yes, He does and He will.

So will you join me and take Courage this year? Will you make 2019 a year that you are waiting and standing still for the victories about to come to you? I pray you will.

Love and peace!

My Front Door

I’ve been participating in a photo challenge on Instagram this October. When the prompt for Monday came up, I found myself writing and sharing some things that were too long for an Insta caption. Thus, this post, My Front Door.

The 8th day of the #everydayphotoaday challenge brings you to my favorite place, home. Lately, it has been a respite for me. This front door signifies so much. My front door is a window into our life as a family. It isn’t picture perfect or a new build. It is a beautiful piece of old architecture begging to share some stories.

It is the door we walked through and •knew• we had found the place to raise our kids. It is the door we shoved two 27′ trailers worth of life belongings through. It is the door that our dogs run out of a few too many times. It is the door that we carried our twin daughters through on a sunny Easter Sunday three years ago on their first day home. It is the door so many of my runs start and end with. It is the door that has welcomed friends for home group and family for birthday parties.

It is the door that my brother and husband picked out and replaced so we were sure it was fire safe and blocked out the winter wind and summer heat. It is the door our kids stare out when the Grands go home to Pittsburgh and Myrtle.

It is the door that slams when The Bigs are running off to the bus. It is the door that welcomes them home from a busy day at school. It is the door I will keep walking in and out of until I get to walk teens out to prom pictures, daughters to bridal dress fittings, and usher grandbabies into at Christmas. At least that is my prayer.

It is the door I walked out of when I was retreating to the hammock to decide to leave Giant Eagle. It is the door I walked through after my first day at Excel4apps, feeling so connected and welcomed and excited for possibilities.

It is the door I walked through when I came home from finding out my Company had been acquired and my time with my work fam is short. It is the door I will walk out of every day until I find a new job that I love as much as I love this one. 

Yes, this is the post where I tell you that I am on the hunt for a new job. It has been a stressful week and I’d love your prayers and support as we lean into God to see what is next. I’ve loved 99.9% of my moments at Excel4apps and unfortunately that 0.1% had to happen last week when the HR team of our {new} parent company came to the office I love so much and delivered the news.

Join me in asking God to open front doors and remove obstacles as this next chapter in our story begins?

The Grasshopper

I’ve been working on some personal stuff lately, and as I scrolled through some photos from the summer, the photo of the grasshopper caught my eye. I’d forgotten about this bug probably since the moment my friend Jenn put him back into nature, but something about this picture made words start to flow.

I’ve never been one to stop and enjoy the tiny details in life, but that is going to have to change. My husband has been trying to get me to do this for nine years, but I wasn’t budging. Look at those eyes, the antennae, the color, and the legs of the grasshopper. All intricately made and on something as small as a bug. I stare down at my fingers typing this post and realize the wrinkles, the knuckles, the veins – they’re also intricately and beautifully made. Time to start appreciating these things more.

You see, I want to stop thinking about what to do in the future and start to live more in the moment. That might mean a few bumps along the way, but it is time to start truly enjoying the present so the future can be just as awesome.

Normally I would have flicked this bug off my daughter’s extra outfit and gone about my day, but something prompted me to enjoy it and take a photo just in case my husband and son wouldn’t get to see it. And seeing the grasshopper in my phone’s photo feed was exactly what I needed in the middle of a weekend spent not feeling like the world was just right.

As a person of faith, I’m one to believe in signs and messages and that we might not understand them until later when we think about them. The grasshopper appeared in our lives on a day that seemed so perfect – the weather was great, we were with friends, and I was looking forward to a holiday off of a job I loved. To anyone else, he might have been a nuisance, but to me, he was something I needed to see down the road – fast forwarding to this past weekend. You see, grasshoppers are symbolic of taking leaps of faith and that you are able to move forward from whatever you are facing.

This particular grasshopper popped up in a mindless photo search while I should have been doing 100 other things but was avoiding them because I am just not ready. I paused and thought about the details of this bug and the love that God put into making even the little things. God hasn’t forgotten me. He has plans for me and wants me to thrive in them. He made me intricately and wonderfully and holds me even in the darkest of days. I just need to lean on Him then jump with faith.

What are you facing that you need to take to God? Are you ready to step out in faith with me and jump like the grasshopper?

Our Baptism

Two months ago today, the mr and I took a big step in our faith. We had our baptism in front of our church family at New Life Center!

our baptism

Our church does water baptism in a pool on the altar area. It symbolizes dying to the old self and rising up out of the water new. While baptism isn’t necessary to go to Heaven, it is a pretty big step in faith. Letting that old self go and be made new is a pretty incredible feeling.

I’ve been a Christian since 1995 and had been sprinkle baptized as a baby – I can tell you that nothing felt like it made me feel that day. I was the last to be baptized of nine and my husband went right before me. There have been a lot of struggles in my life with relationships, comparison, weight, single motherhood, stepping away from my faith, and more. When I went under the water, many of those flashed before my eyes then a dark to light flash happened and I was up and out of the water, feeling fresh and new and whole.

After the service, I was away from my family a few days for work but couldn’t stop smiling and thinking about what all God has done for us. That day was awesome and will be a pretty brilliant memory for the rest of my life.

Want to know more? You can check out the video of our baptism here on our church’s Facebook page!


Kindness Is Contagious

In a world where there is so much hurt and hate, will you remember that kindness is contagious? I’m passing this onto my kiddos and hopefully will remember it myself.

I’ve been sort of silent in all bits of my life, not telling anyone but Greg the full story of what’s been going on in this overthinking head of mine. You’ve heard bits and pieces here in my running round-ups or maybe you follow me on Instagram and have seen my admission to some struggles. But today? Today was hard, you guys.

I’m still not ready to talk about it, but will be soon. The day felt very unkind. There were not enough hugs. There was not enough air. There were no amount of songs from my 2008 playlist that were going to help. Life really changed today and now it’s time to see what the next chapter brings for Team Wills (and ~55 or so other families). Sigh.

Get to know the people around you. Get to know people who are not just like you. If you are a faithful person, pray to be able to love people without conditions and love them right where they are at. Do the right thing. And remember, kindness is contagious.

kindness is contagious

This box is a snack box I started getting for my work’s snacks – if you are interested in the service (Snack Nation), please let me know and I’ll refer you – cooler stuff for you and me both if you let me know!