I’ve heard it said that life is the sum of all the choices you make. I get this, but what about the things we don’t choose? Don’t those things still shape our lives and set a course that we may not have “chosen” for ourselves? Growing up, we all hear phrases like, “You’re in the mistake zone,” referring to young adults between the ages of 18-22, and, “You never know what you have until it’s gone.” Being well out of my 20s now, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard or experienced more accurate phrases. I’ve made a myriad of mistakes along the way, and I try to live each day with no regret, but there’s one choice that still haunts me. […]
I am not going to lie, I did not have motherhood on my life’s radar. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it wasn’t until a couple of my closest girlfriends, feminists, and boss babes in their own right had their babies that I thought, “Maybe I should have a kid too.” “Should we try to have a kid?” I asked my husband, jokingly. We had no idea how our lives would change by meeting our little boy within the following year, but I can’t deny I was surprised by the joys of being a new mom. It isn’t easy and can be exhausting, but don’t let social media fool you: Being a new mom is not all hard, not all struggling,
This was it, exactly what my heart had secretly desired. I was pregnant! We had just received the results of our genetic testing to find out the gender. I had been quietly praying and wishing for a baby girl. One that I could put big headbands on and all things pink. This baby was a surprise, one I didn’t think I’d have. Just six months prior, we decided that if we adopted a sibling group of four we had cared for in the past the dream of having another biological baby would need to be sacrificed. Having the four come back would mean that we would be at 12 children, and that was a big number for us. I prayed about it
I knew my father was having a difficult time in life. It was so very unlike this man, whose smile warmed the hearts of perfect strangers, to see that smile so infrequently. But at the age of 50, having left his position as an accountant, he could not find a job in his field. There were challenges he was facing that he kept to himself, and the depth of depression that descended upon him was not fully known to those who loved him. That is until the day my mother found him in the garage having taken his life. My father had committed suicide. I was a 23-year-old newlywed living in Nashville, Tennessee when I received the call. This was my daddy.
Our children and grandchildren met each other for the first time over pizza on a Friday evening. A bonfire was built later that night. Marshmallows were toasted and paired with graham crackers and chocolate, and grandkids were sent back to their cabins sugared up (because this is what grandparents get to do). Dan and I planned an outdoor wedding weekend, having fallen in love later in life. We were surrounded by our adult children, children-in-law, and the grands. Each family occupied their own tiny cabin near a wild and clear river. Grandpa Dan flipped pancakes on Saturday morning at a cook station set up on the deck of a woodsy house. Here is where the bride and her junior bridesmaids, pre-teen granddaughters
The cutting cold of the night numbed my cheek as I lay against a pillow of snow. My head was heavy—I could not lift it—but my eyes could still look around from my quiet place on the ground. No one. Silence. Maybe the faraway hum of traffic. Maybe a street light casting a yellow shadow on the parked cars. Maybe the taste of acidic peppermint in my mouth. I was glad to be alone. The crowd had become too suffocating. Someone’s parents were gone for the weekend, so a bunch of us decided to have an older brother buy alcohol. The one who smoked Camels and drove a Camaro. Boys in puffy coats sat around a kitchen table and played cards, and
I slowly lifted my index finger parallel to my eyelash and blinked. My auburn lashes were clean. No leftover mascara remained. That meant I had washed my face and possibly pulled it together before falling into bed. The perfectly appointed midnight blue monogram on my J. Crew pajamas, wrinkled against my tired body, was a positive sign that my faux façade was in place. The bow on this sloppy package was neatly tied. Thank God I gave up wine for Lent. Substituting vodka seemed to be going swimmingly. The light peeked into my bedroom through the half-drawn shutters. It was deafeningly quiet, which meant it was early on a Sunday morning. I squinted to see across the room to the quiet cove
Few other words strike up as many feelings as the word forgiveness. There are many opinions on what it means to forgive and how much gray area there is in the “forgetting” part that is often associated with forgiveness. This concept is one I have personally wrestled with for a few years now, and this is the story of my journey. My Husband Betrayed Me My ex-husband had an affair. The details of when and for how long are still a little blurry to me; but, nonetheless, it happened. I was able to figure out who “the other woman” was because, well—I knew her. We had only hung out one time with our families, but we were friends on social media after that
Dating isn’t how I remember it before I was married. I don’t have any idea when things changed so drastically, but man have they. Even though I haven’t figured all of that out yet, one thing I do know that stays the same is for some unknown reason girls tend to go for the emotionally unavailable man and we detour from the sweet guy. Every female in the history of forever has done this. Women are always talking about it, so I know we are in the same boat. “Why do I always end up with the wrong guy?” “How do I always end up with the guy with 100 issues?” “What do I do wrong when it comes to men?” I
My first memories were created within the walls of the sweetest little preschool, St. Stephen’s. I can’t recall entire days; just bits and pieces of the time I spent there. Some moments are very vivid in my memory bank. The education building was simple: one long hallway with lots of nursery doors of which the top halves were swung wide open, welcoming little children into the cheerful classrooms. The smell of original Lysol filled the preschool, indicating the sky blue nap mats were clean. Rubbing my fingers along the vinyl mat during rest time is still a comforting thought today. After nap time, I loved to play “Family.” Often, I would pretend to be the mom and invite my friends in for
In this gripping and emotional podcast, Grit and Grace Life‘s own Julie Bender (previously Julie Graham), brand ambassador and podcast co-host, talks about the sudden loss of her husband and the difficult season of marriage that preceded it. Now, more than two years later, Julie shares the heartache that accompanied raising her son as a single mom and how she turned to her faith to for strength and encouragement during a time that was anything but stable.
We are here to tell our stories, even the hard ones. HerStory documents the stories of heartbreak and debilitating challenges that rattle the life of a grit and grace woman. We believe that by exposing their vulnerabilities, these women help us to see that there is hope and healing during situations that seem insurmountable. If you’re needing encouragement today, read some of these strong women’s stories here.
The field was a place of childhood imagination, a land filled with underground forts, wood crate castles, and a path that wandered over dirt mounds and through a labyrinth of tall grasses and wildflowers. Fruit trees were scattered throughout the property, apples and plums. The lot was blocked from the street by shrubs that seemed to stretch from the ground to powerlines. It was a meeting place for the kids in the neighborhood, a place where you could dream, getting lost in the fairy-tale minutes of youth. But for me, this magical playground held my secrets. It was the path I took to get to the Petersons. The Petersons The Petersons were an elderly couple. They owned a large house on the
My family and I love going to Washington D.C. I’ve gone countless times since I was a kid, especially because my dad did so much work there when I was younger. This past October, my husband and I took a trip to D.C. sans-kids. It was probably the best trip we’ve had since our honeymoon. He had this obsession with John F. Kennedy’s assassination, so we decided to map out all the homes in Georgetown connected to the family. Of course, the closet realtor in me also had Zillow pulled up as I wanted to know how much these historic homes went for—and what they looked like inside. When we went to see the Declaration of Independence (something he had never seen),
The world as I knew it ended on July 19, 2015. It was a day that shook my faith and my sanity. I walked into the basement suite in my home. My son was renting the suite from us and I needed to talk to him. I found him lying on his side, in the fetal position. He had a rifle between his legs. He was lying in a puddle. The puddle was black, and it took me a split second for it to sink in that it was blood. I turned on my heels and ran back upstairs, screaming and sobbing for my husband to call 911. The next few hours were a blur of police, emergency personnel, and the coroner’s
I have been many things in my 40 years. I’ve tried on many different hats. I have been a fashion-forward retail worker in New York City and an avid runner who defined herself by her race times and lap splits. I have been a stay at home mom, priding myself on my perfect children, successful husband, and well-crafted athleisure attire. I was a homemaker, a make-it-from scratch smug cook who relished in making my own baby food and feeding my family straight from the farmers market. And this was long before being “organic” was a thing. I was constantly searching for something, an identity, my sense of self. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a function of low self-esteem.
I sat on the edge of the exam table, a sheet draped over my lap, exam gown tied in the back. I was waiting for the doctor to enter the room. I needed him to tell me why I couldn’t get pregnant. It was difficult to understand—there were women all around me that just looked at their husbands and got pregnant. So many stories on the nightly news of babies being found in dumpsters, abandoned in the cold, young women ending their babies’ journeys out of convenience. What was wrong with me? I wrestled with my emotions and if I am completely honest, I was angry. Mad at myself for failing to be a real woman and mad at God for not