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Grace, Voxer + Keeping the Marriage Spark Alive // Interview #1 with Jenny Mayberry

Friends, I have such a fun treat for you today—my first interview is finally done!

My heart for doing this is that y’all would be encouraged by other women I love who love Jesus, but also struggle to get out of bed some days. I feel like when we're able to say, “Yes! Me too!” we don't feel so alone in our situation or season we're in. I know God is teaching all of us different things in different ways—so my prayer is that you'll be encouraged by something my sweet friend Jenny has to say. She and I have become good friends over the last few years and her joy, authenticity, and love for Jesus are so refreshing. I never leave a conversation with her without being blessed in some way— so I know you will too. Okay, here we go!

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Jenny Mayberry is a wife to Patrick and Mom of 4 under 5 years old—Maggie, Jude, Tripp, and Crosby. She and her husband are both Cookeville, Tennessee natives who have been serving at Soul City Church in Chicago for the last 3 1/2 years. She spends most of her time cleaning up spilled milk and trying to keep herself laughing in the midst of the crazy. (Also, she has the most hilarious Instagram stories—follow along @JennyMayberry.)

Let's start with some fun stuff—Jenny, what is your...

Go-to meal to feed your crew: Spaghetti… easy, fast and everyone is happy!
Favorite thing you’ve read lately: It has been a while since I have read an entire book. But the last thing I read was Simply Tuesday and it was refreshing! Although, recently I have started to re-read Redeeming Love just for fun. I loved the book years ago!
Something you splurge on: We live on a super tight budget but if I allowed myself to splurge on anything it would certainly be Home Goods. I LOVE decorating spaces!
Favorite Instagram follow: @therealbrookewhite. She. Is. Hysterical. Her humor is right up my alley. It’s mainly her Instagram Stories that make me laugh!
Favorite show right now: This is Us
Thing in your life you are loving: My mini van
In a pinch beauty tip: Mascara and then bronzer on the cheeks! Funny thing, my in a pinch beauty tip is my normal routine. hah!
Guilty pleasure: Hmmm.. Grey’s Anatomy...I am still a faithful watcher and I LOVE it.
Worship album you're loving right now? Anything Patrick Mayberry :).... I do love him and his music but for real, because my days can feel so loud with four children at home— I really enjoy listening to instrumental albums. I love worship albums with words, but sometimes the words just add to the chaos. Some of my favorites are Bethel’s Without Words and United Pursuit’s Sacred Mountain.
Fun fact about you: I always wanted to have an even number of kids so that everyone would have a partner on a roller coaster.

I feel like you're killing it with 4 kids ;) Any tips for moms with a lot of little ones? Ha! I doubt myself daily if I am really honest, but as soon as those doubts creep in I remind myself that this is the family God gave me. For His glory, I have four children and he trusted me with them, so I breath a little and ask the Lord to help me a lot. Also, I try as much as I can to let things go and choose my battles. I want to parent out of love not out of fear.

I know you’ve loved living in Chicago, but I also know that being away from your family and your hometown has been hard. What's your encouragement for someone struggling with a similar situation: Yes! It has been amazing and hard and fun and stretching and sad and so good. I mean you name an emotion about being here and I have felt it. Good and bad. Chicago specifically is a special place and God has used this season in our life to teach Patrick and me a lot about the way He wired us. I can sing our church’s praises all day for the way they foster self growth and transformation. We didn’t know it, but the choice to play it safe here is not an option.

The people we have surrounded ourselves with are pretty incredible and make me a better me—that’s the good part. The hard part is I grew up with extended family around all the time, and my kids don’t have that at all here. It makes me sad a lot, but that’s where God comes in and reminds me that He hasn’t forgotten my kiddos and that He actually loves them more than I do.

So, what would I tell someone walking in a similar season? I would say find your people, be honest with them and yourself. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak clearly and give you chances to “practice” listening to Him. Find people who can help you call out lies when you start to believe them and people who point you to Jesus.

What does it look like to spend time with the Lord when when you're running on little sleep and you're rarely have a second to yourself: I have an ongoing conversation with God in my head most of the time. I just invite the Lord into that and I claim that He is in my thoughts. After I had children, carving time out in the morning for my “quiet time” became more difficult for me. But what’s awesome is that my relationship with Jesus has grown leaps and bounds because I am not dependent on that morning time to give my relationship with Jesus depth, make sense? Should I be pausing to be still with the Father? YES... absolutely, but I have found such a beauty in being with Him constantly.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I have always loved this verse and desired to live my life by it. After changing up my routine with the Lord and talking to Him throughout the day I finally feel like I understand the “pray continually” part. I just talk and listen continually and it’s not always sweet and peaceful and pretty. Sometimes it’s angry and confused and frustrated. But I know that’s okay too because that is prayer as well.

Your husband is a worship pastor of a church, so I know your Sundays are crazy. Do you have any tips for other mamas for those hard Sundays? Whatever it takes, just give yourself grace. Sundays are not always my favorites. I have tried to change my mindset many times and maybe one day I will, but for now I miss my husband on those days and I long to just go to church with him. And also, you have to give yourself permission to….
- Be late
- Not go
- Grab food at a drive through
And ask…
- A friend to sit with you
- Someone to come early to your house and help you get your kids ready
- Friends to pray for you on Sunday mornings

Also, have a safe person who you can vent to and celebrate with...someone that can listen if you need space to not love Sundays for awhile!

What lie do you have to refute often, and what truth do you hold onto in those moments? Pretty much everyday I have to refute that lie that I am messing up my children. I feel so often that I am doing it wrong. I lose my temper, find myself staring at my phone and missing moments, checking out and wanting to nap. What I have realized is that I could spend all morning making pancakes, reading to them, braiding hair, painting with edible paint, all while folding laundry and doing dishes and with just ONE slip up, and I think I'm a bad mom. So I have to combat that lie with prayer.

When the thought slips into my head, I call it out. I ask Jesus, “Is there some way I could do better here? Is this feeling I have guilt or shame driven?” and then I listen and move forward. I think the Lord allows us to experience guilt to push us to be more like Him, but I believe shame says I'm flawed and unworthy—which is straight from the enemy. So if it’s shame, I have to call it out as just that. Mistakes don’t make me a bad mom, they make me human.

So true! In your day to day, what does it look like to receive grace. From yourself, and the Lord? It’s pretty much a constant conversation with the Lord in my head. I check with Him and when I am doing that well, I hear his grace whispered to me in the moments I need it. Also, I receive His grace through my friendships. I have people in my life who I talk to on a daily basis (thank you Jesus for Voxer) that call me up and point me to Jesus. They are grace-filled for me and push me to lean into the grace of God.

In a world that tells us that perfectionism will make us "happy" and fix all our problems, how do you push back against that, and walk in freedom from "perfect"? 
I had a visceral reaction to just reading that question. First, I have to remember perfectionism takes me to the total opposite end of the spectrum from freedom. I am one of those people who likes to bow out gracefully before I lose—and perfectionism is a battle I will NEVER win, so I just bow out on this one. I believe that when I strive for perfection, I'm really trying to control things.
So how do I push back against that and walk in freedom from "perfect"? I have to daily remember to walk in the Spirit of God. Don’t get me wrong, things pop up daily where I am pushing for perfection and thankfully I have dear friends who call me up by saying “Snap out of it, Jenny” and when my ear is tuned into the Holy Spirit, He reminds me of this scripture.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Cor 3:17

Any encouragement for cultivating authentic friendships in your stage of life?
One word. VOXER. This little app has strengthened my relationships with people I live far away from and people I live close too. For some, it feels funny at first, but for my stage in life, it is a perfect way to keep a conversation going on your own time. (you can listen and respond whenever you want.)

Another tip, once you find your people, go deep quick. Ask each other tough questions and listen well. Friendship is something that is cultivated and grown. Find a small group and go all in. Be honest, be you, you are enough and you are a good friend! People, at their core, want connection so I would say look for that with other believers!

Some ideas: book clubs, Bible Study Fellowship, Community Bible Study, small groups at your church, Thrive Moms, MOPS, or get on the internet and look up ways to connect in your area. Who knows, maybe you’ll have luck with that first group! Just don’t give up, if the first few times are awkward, push through and keep trying. Having “your people” is sooo worth the awkward starts.

You have an adorable side business, @Oh My Letters! Tell us a little bit about it and how you balance it with family: I have a lettering business on the side where I make custom pieces with scripture, song lyrics, or other quotes. I need Truth in my face, so I have always loved having scripture on my walls of my home—so I thought this would be a fun way to do this for others too! For me and Patrick, communication and planning are key for making this work. We must plan ahead and follow a schedule, which we are not the best at. Patrick takes the kids out for a few hours while the babies are napping and I can work on my projects, and I take the keep the kids out of the way when he builds the signs. It takes team work! 

What advice would you give the Jenny from 10 years ago? Oh man! This is a great question and honestly one I have never thought of before. Ten years ago I was 22, not married and had just graduated college. I would tell myself to stop and soak in every single second. I would tell myself to listen to the Holy Spirit nudging me and to stop comparing myself to everyone else. I would tell myself to read a Brene Brown book and start telling a safe someone all the thoughts I had in my head (comparison was crippling to me then). I would tell myself to sit in as much Scripture as I could handle, and to laugh more.

What would be your perfect Saturday: Below is a perfectly realistic Saturday. Ha! Perfectly unrealistic would be on the beach somewhere.

Sleeping in and waking up to a family breakfast already made! OR going out to eat breakfast at Buzz Cafe with our crew. Then something outside...anything really, park, farmers market, zoo, etc. Heading home for naps (perfect Saturday, all children would nap) and I would sit in my backyard on a quilt with a cup of ice! Then everyone would wake up happy and we would grill out for dinner and eat as a family on our back patio. Maybe a bonfire with s’mores! Bedtime would go smoothly and then Patrick and I would cuddle up and watch a good movie.

Any tips on keeping the spark alive in your marriage while raising lots of kids? Date your spouse, even if it means in-home-date-nights (we do these). When it comes to your mind, ask Jesus to breath life into your marriage. I told Patrick that I wanted to start kissing him everyday (is that terrible that we weren’t doing that already?!?!?) just to make it a habit.

This is advice we want to take more often because we have only done this a handful of times, but plan time to get away together, even if it is just for 24 hours. Wise couples have told us they do this four times a year and it is so good for their marriages.


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Y'all! So good, right?! Thank you Jenny, for being so honest and sharing your heart. I love hearing what God is teaching other women and gleaning up some truth + wisdom! Again, you should go ahead and follow her on Instagram—it will make you smile, I promise. 

5 Things for Friday



Okay Friends, I'm still trying to get into a rhythm of blogging—so I wanted to hop on and just share a few thoughts and some things I'm loving right now.

So it's December 2nd and I’m already needing to give myself lots of grace for getting caught up in “all the things." Dumb stuff— like being flustered my garland doesn't look just right, getting overwhelmed by expectations, and the kids (again) don't care about the Advent devotional (why do we do this to ourselves??). So I'm stopping myself, reeling it in, and just trying to be present with my people while we celebrate the gift of Jesus. Thats all. That's my only goal this Christmas (and watch as many Hallmark Christmas movies that I can.)

Okay, now the important stuff... 5 Things I'm loving right now ;)

1. Christmas PJs: Literally no one in town had christmas PJs. They had all been picked over, with none of my kids sizes. Was I the only person that dropped the ball and didn't buy them in November? You planners always amaze me. If you're like me, snag these on Amazon for $16 today and they should get there by Monday. Win.

Why I need Grace at Christmas



This time of year my heart beats a little faster— in a good and bad way.

It's my favorite season—filled with nostalgia and making new, sweet memories. But there's also this overwhelming weight of pressure and stress that makes my chest break out in hives a little bit.

December 2 years ago, I had a total breakdown. I was bound and determined to have the most meaningful Christmas. 

I wanted to do all the things. Buy thoughtful gifts, have the perfect Christmas card, do the gingerbread house, do Operation Christmas Child with the kids, make my house and tree look perfect, volunteer as a family, travel to see family, see Santa, make homemade ornaments + cookies, get matching Christmas PJs, bake treats for neighbors, and most importantly… make sure our kids knew what Christmas was all about by doing an Advent devotional.

And thats what brought the breakdown…

It was the year of sweet Ann Voskamps “kid version” of her Advent devotional book. I had such high hopes and was all excited to have 25 meaningful nights talking about Jesus as a family. We all watched along on social media while it seemed like everyone was knocking it out of the park with their Jesse Trees.

And IT. WENT. TERRIBLY...

Every night ended in tears and me yelling and glaring at Jeremy with such disappointment because surely our kids' disinterest meant we were failing as parents and definitely failing at Christmas. I was so tired and disappointed— that I lost it. (I still get a little sick to my stomach when I think about it, blah.)

I was striving for perfection and finding my worth in not failing at being a good mom. We all have those certain things we struggle to find our worth in— and it seems like this time of year exposes them like none other. And listen, God bless Ann Voskamp—her books really are great! But looking back, I laugh that I ever thought it was a good idea to do that book with in the stage of life we were in.  That book is definitely not for toddlers. It may actually be a little over my head too. (and I still don’t know what the Jesse Tree is).

And that list above are all super fun things that are not wrong at all! But every good idea doesn’t have to be a good idea for me, my family and my kids. I know our capacity—and it's small

So this Christmas, I’m asking God to help me take the pressure off and give myself (and others around me) a huge amount of grace.

I want to slow down and think a lot about why Christmas even matters—that God came down and put on flesh to save me from myself. From having to get it right and do it all perfectly.

I want to do simple, sweet things with the kids (and be okay with saying no to some things)

I want to spend more time just loving my people than trying to impress them.

I want to talk to my kids about Jesus, and trust their hearts are taking in truth even when the Advent devo flops.

I want to be bored some nights staring at the fire, wondering how its only 6:15 pm.

I want to be okay if my house, the dish I brought to the party, or my Christmas card aren't just perfect.

And I want to have a worshipful Holiday season that's actually about Jesus.

But I'm also asking the Lord to slow me down, and show me when my heart starts to get a little yuck... When I get jealous after scrolling Instagram. When I'm rude to my husband because I'm overwhelmed. When I'm hard on myself and others. When I worry too much about what people think or am mean to the kids because I'm trying to do too much. And when my heart starts loving approval, perfection and stuff more than my Heavenly Father (ugh!!)  Grace. So. Much. Grace. We get to ask for forgiveness and try again—Praise Jesus!
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So let's get our game faces on this week—ask for the Lord's help, receive His grace, and go ahead and decide we don't have to get hives at Christmas.  

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Here are a few things I'm excited about doing this season: 


1. Having a plan for my time with the Lord: Not out of legalism, but if my heart isn't rooted and grounded in truth, I am a hot mess. Me and my girlfriends are going through THIS advent study together. If you don't have a study, the Bible App has tons of reading plans or just read through Luke 1-3. It doesn't have to look perfect or be fancy.

2. This Kids Advent tool:  Hopefully much more age appropriate (ahem). If it bombs, they’re really cute so we’ll just sit them on our coffee table.  Lots of grace.




3. We love playing with This Nativity Scene (Little People)

4. And these Christmas albums will be on repeat. 


(P.S. And if you're wondering what happened last year at Christmas? I don't remember. I was 100 weeks pregnant with my 3rd baby due on Christmas day so it was a blur.)

Some Links + Loves for Ya

Okay friends, I've been working on my first interview with my sweet friend and I think its going to be a good one. We're covering all the things: our cultures obsession with perfection, lies we believe, and why we love Instagram Stories. But for now, I have a few good reads and some things I'm loving for ya.


1.  Housefires III new album (can only get it on iTunes) I am always trying to find good praise music and when I do, I wear it out. So this one's on repeat. Worship changes things. Was just talking to a friend about it, how we can't explain it, it just does. We get our eyes on Him, and things shift. (here's an old post on that.) Also, we're really liking THIS ALBUM for kids from Austin Stone Worship.




2. The Magnolia Story: Y’all, Chip + Joanna Gaines for President. I wish they were my neighbors, and so does all of America. I tried really hard not to jump on the bandwagon, but I’m unashamedly on it. They love Jesus and each other a lot, and they're just fun to watch. I'm almost done with the book, and while it definitely has been a bit slow, its been a cute peek into how they were raised, how they met and how they became America's obsession. Ha. Here's their show in case you don't know who I'm talking about... i.e. my Mom.




3. These really pretty prints/canvases from a blogger I’ve followed a while. Crushing on this one and asking for it for Christmas:



4. This shirt from Walmart in Bay Leaf. We don’t have Target, so bare with me. I bought a size X1 and am trying got get my hands on every color because it just covers all the things really well for $12. yay.

5. And Just in case you hadn't hear about the Grape Juice trick for warding off the stomach bug, you should probably go ahead and buy 2 or 3 bottles to stock up for the season. You're welcome. (I got a little lax on chasing my kids around to drink it, and my oldest caught it. Boo. The rest of us will be swimming in grape juice till this crazy bug leaves Cookeville.)

6.  Our Dangerous Love Affair with Human Approval Y’all, my word. (insert girl with her hand raised Emoji). If you're in a pinch for time, watch 0:25-8:45.

7.  On Raising Kids who Love Jesus for a Lifetime: This post is SO good by my friend, Lindsay. Just go ahead and subscribe so you get all her posts.