Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Guest Post: What is Your Tragedy?

This morning we shared a great thought from a Today Show writer. She wrote about her battle with infertility and how, thoroughout the process of trying and failing to get pregnant over and over again, she found herself asking "What did I do to deserve this?" while shedding tears of pain and lamentation. Fastforward a few years - she has three beautiful adopted daughters and she asks the same question,  "What did I do to deserve this?" but now with tears of joy and gratitude. Isn't it amazing that when we join our struggles to Christ's suffering, God can redeem us through them? The same things that make us wail in pain can make us shout with gladness. It's truly a mystery.

My anonymous guest blogger today shares how her own struggles have allowed her to encounter God in a different way. Good stuff.

Today I am so grateful for the opportunities that I have been given and for the discernment that God gives to me. I sometimes wonder what in the world am I supposed to be doing. What is God’s plan for me? It has been said that in order for our lives to be meaningful, we have to go through suffering to get there. That we have to be uncomfortable because if we are comfortable, then maybe our relationship with God is just mediocre. I don’t want a mediocre relationship with God. I want him to take me where he will have me go!

I recently heard someone say that sometimes it takes a tragic event in our lives in order to transform us, to bring us to God or back to God or to even pay attention to what He is trying to tell us.

My tragedy was that I almost lost my life! But my transformation didn’t happen overnight. As a matter of fact, it’s still happening. I continue to feel different feelings and have different thoughts and am still a work in progress today. I have always believed in God although my beliefs were skewed by others at times. It’s just that throughout my life there have always been things that I can look back on and just know that God did that. There is no other explanation. I have an education, God did that! My abusive boyfriend tried to kill me but did not succeed, God did that! I could have been beaten and killed but I wasn’t, God did that! I was driving drunk and made it home, God did that! I was driving drunk and didn’t kill anyone or myself, God did that! I got sober, God did that! I met a wonderful man who I love and who loves me, God did that! I have children, God did that! I have a great relationship with most of my family, God did that! I have had several saving graces in my life, God did that! I am writing this blog, God did this!

You see, I have this crazy little thing called alcoholism which means I cannot drink like a normal person. Something in my brain is chemically different than that of a non-alcoholic person’s brain. If I put alcohol into my body, I act differently and feel differently and just can’t handle it. If you put alcohol into a “normal” person, they may get a little tipsy but no big deal. So because of this crazy little thing called alcoholism, I have suffered a lot. The people around me suffered a lot. I lost everything at one point. I almost died more than once physically and I definitely died spiritually and emotionally until I found God again and realized it was Him who saved me and I could not let him down this time. I needed to listen! I needed to hear Him telling me that I was to be alive for a reason and not to worry about what the reason was, but to pick myself back up and get on the ball! God picked me up, dusted me off and said “stop feeling sorry for yourself, I love you, you got this. I have things for you to do.”

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” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Today, I choose not to drink alcohol. There is nothing wrong with it, and I don’t look down upon anyone who does drink alcohol. I just know that I cannot and so I make that choice for myself. Today I am listening to what God is telling me and am so happy to be sharing this with you. I have moments where I just sit back and think about how blessed I am to even wake up in the morning. A song pops into my head by a wonderful country singer named Martina McBride, called “Blessed” and I just want to sing it from the rooftops. I love that song, I feel that way! I can’t believe I am here! I have been blessed, I have so much to be thankful for.

So what’s your tragedy? Have you been brought back to God? Do you feel far away from God? Do you feel blessed? Have you reached a goal that you never thought possible? I bet you were chosen for greatness too no matter what your answer is. God works in all of us.

Don’t question it -> Just go with it -> Let go and let God

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Guest Post from GASP... a Dad!

The crickets have been chirping and the dust has been accumulating on the ole MomSquad Blog, so here comes a dad to the rescue. Enjoy a guest post from Spirit FM's Music Director and More Music Mid-Day host, Davis Watts!

I spend hours each week on the telephone interacting with people in the Christian Music industry. It’s just one of the parts of my job as music director that I am completely in love with. When I first took the position I thought these calls would be tedious and phony interactions. What I found instead are warm, loving people with whom I am fortunate to have a strong personal relationship. These people carried much of my burden as I walked with my daughter in the final days of her life. Much of our time on the phone is spent catching up on life and learning from one another. Yesterday I had a beautiful conversation with a lovely woman, Katie, who is pregnant with her first child. The conversation began with how great her baby bump looks on social media and quickly turned to talk of children and parenting.

As we were chatting about parenting styles, Katie shared something with me that took me by surprise and reminded me of the power we have as parents to shape these little lives we have been entrusted with. Katie said she clearly remembered talking to her mother when she was 4 years old* about a boy she had a crush on in school. Her mother’s response was negative. So negative that Katie told me she never wanted to talk to her mother about her personal life again. Can you imagine! I’m sure Katie’s mom didn’t really think about her reaction at the time. I remember my own daughter sharing about her childhood crushes and I just thought, “Why on earth would you like that stinky boy?” But I never thought my reaction would have an effect on my children opening up to me about what was going on in their life.

When I hung up the phone I couldn’t stop thinking about that conversation. As a father who has already been through the process of raising my children I can tell you more about the things I did wrong than what I did right. If you are the parent of a young child I will tell you right now you will screw up, and that is totally fine! If you have been around this parenting thing for a while, just when you think you have the hang of it BAM, you will mess up again. So I’m not saying I have some great parenting advice for anyone. But I will say that my kids turned out great! Maddy was a fighter and showed me how to live life with abandon. Ethan is a hard working young man who is determined to take life by the horns and love the people around him like there is no tomorrow.

In light of my conversation with Katie I will tell you one thing I am happy that I got right. I listened to my children. I made a conscious effort to get down on their level and look them in the eye when they spoke to me. I worked hard at not getting a look of exasperation on my face every time they told me the same story for the 100th time. I reminded myself that in their tiny lives tiny things look very BIG. I will confess that these actions did not come naturally to me. I had to work at it every day. Some days were better than others but now that I’m on the other side I can see how that hard work paid off. Here is what I told Katie on the phone that day: You got this! That is my encouragement to you too!

Read more from Davis here!

*Editor's Correction: Katie was in 4th grade, not 4-years-old. Also, she wasn't talking to her mom about a boy. She had expressed her interest in joining the circus as a trapeez artist. I kid. I kid. But seriously, she was like, 10. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Why Are You Wasting Time?

photo credit obpia30 on pixabay
I'm sure you've seen Frozen. If not, good on ya! The song, Do You Want to Build A Snowman is super cute and slightly less of an ear worm than Let It Go. I'm sorry if you're singing that now. Really. Really. Sorry.

In my house the FAQ is Do you want to build a train track? I am not a huge fan of playing with trains, but I am a huge fan of my boys, so most of the time my answer is, sigh... Sure! The other day I committed to creating what was sure to be a monumental track, but first I needed to wash some dishes that were piling up in the sink. As I did, my four-year-old came up behind me urgently and asked Momma! Why are you wasting time! The clock was ticking and this track wasn't going to build itself. The dishes could wait!

Being a boring old adult I thought, washing dishes isn't fun, but I wouldn't describe it as a waste of time. It's something that needs to be done to keep the kitchen clean and to give us something to eat off of at our next meal. But I knew at this moment, they could wait.

As we built our train, I thought about those words and how I'm spending my time. Are the majority of the hours in my day doing anything to honor or recognize God or are they being wasted?

Later in the evening we were watching the Inspector Gadget reboot on Netflix and Dr. Claw said, in his menacing voice, I'll get you Gadget! If it's the last thing I do! I couldn't help but draw a line connecting the question, Why are you wasting time? with that evil threat from Dr. Claw. He was ok with his last action before he goes to the cartoon afterlife being one of violence. Ah, the life of the villian.

I thought to myself - Dr Claw is not setting himself up for heaven! Yeah, weird. I know. And then I asked myself, Am I? Am I committing myself to making sure the last thing I do is something glorifying God? Sure, life gets in the way. Dishes have to get done, but if you look at my calendar, could you tell that Jesus is who I belong to? Or do I belong to my job? My phone? My friends? My kids? My sin?

Last week there was that tragic story of the three girls who drown when a car they stole went into the water. I couldn't help but think of how awful it would be to die while commiting a crime. I am not judging where they will spend eternal life. That's between them and Jesus, but I do know that it would be awfully nice to be commiting an act of love in some form or fashion when I go.

Dr. Claw's other famous line is I'll get you next time, Gadget! NEXT TIME! Sometimes there's a next time. Sometimes there isn't. So it's time to get real with yourself. Are you wasting time? Can something wait so you can put Jesus on your calendar?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Day Out With Thomas at The Florida Railroad Museum

Day Out With Thomas™ is a family event that offers aspiring engineers and their families the unique opportunity to take a ride with the classic storybook engine, Thomas the Tank Engine™, at regional heritage railroads across the country. And what do you know? One of those railroads is right here in the Tampa Bay area! 

The Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish is home to Day Out With Thomas from March 11th - March 20th. Thomas the Tank Engine has traveled all the way from the Island of Sodor and has arrived Right on Time to take a ride with you and your family.

Because you're a Mom Squad Blog reader, you've got a secret shot at winning 4 tickets! Just put the name of your favorite character from Thomas & Friends in the comments. I'll draw a winner Monday at 10am and reply to your comment if you're the winner! The tickets are for Sunday, March 20th with the train ride at 3pm.

Tickets for Day Out with Thomas: The Ready, Set, Go Tour 2016 are on sale now and available by calling Ticketweb toll-free 866-468-7630, or by visiting  Ticket prices range from $19 to $23 plus tax for ages 2 and up (service charges and fee may apply).   

Our winner is Lisa Rees! Proof below. Thanks to And btw, I counted individuals, not separate entries. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Mom Squad Blog Giveaway - The Mass Box

"Preach it!" I actually said those words while watching the intro video on The mom-dad team who created The Mass Box recalled that they want to do crafts and activities with their kids that help them grow in their faith and prepare for Sunday, but by the time they search out the idea and get the materials together they are out of energy and patience. Yep. We are in the same boat, my friends!

So imagine my excitement that as I was hearing these words in the video, my boys were unloading their Mass Box and all the perfectly packaged craft materials and instructions (for all of Lent!) were there, ready and waiting!

Photo copyright 2016 Abby Brundage. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright 2016 Abby Brundage. All rights reserved.
Here's the gist according to The Mass Box team:

Introducing the Mass Box - a program for 3-7 year olds to help your family get ready for each and every Mass with craft supplies, kids missals, and coloring sheets delivered every month to your door!

We take the work out of getting ready for Mass so that your family can spend time together preparing instead of searching the internet for ideas and collecting craft materials. Everything is ready, and we've even made a YouTube show called Catholic Crafts with Clare to help prepare you and get children excited about the Mass and the crafts.

We are in a pilot in the Mass Box for Lent 2016. Trial kits are in the mail now! We begin full production - for every Sunday and Holy Day - at the end of Advent. Please pre-subscribe for your family to receive the Mass Box starting in Advent!

I'm part of this pilot program for The Mass Box and lucky you - you can be too! I have one to give away. The only requirements: 
1. You have to "like" The Mass Box on Facebook and post pics of your kids doing the activities.You're a guinea pig, after all. 
2. You have to come pick it up here at Spirit FM

Here's how to enter - just post in the comments what you are doing this Lent - are you giving something up? Adding extra prayer time to your day? I'd love to hear your ideas! I'll pick a winner at 6pm tonight and post an update on the blog with the winner's name. 

The first activity is Ash Wednesday and there's one for this coming Sunday, so you'll miss a couple of activities, but this particular box takes us all the way to Easter Sunday. My favorite parts so far -
The instructional video starring their daughter, Clare. I like that it takes the guess work out of the craft for us less-artsy folk. I also love that in the conversation between Clare and her dad, Clare isn't reading a script that makes her sound older than she is. He asks her a question and she says, I don't know! And dad gets to teach her. Hooray for honesty! Here are the results of our first go at The Mass Box!

*Update - I wish I had four to give away! Kathleen is the winner!


Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Chains of God's Embrace

Chains by Radoslaw Wyjadlowski (2007) via 
45 minutes. I can tell you when about 45 minutes have passed during Sunday mass because that's when my boys start fidgeting. And HOW CONVENIENT! That's right at the consecration. The time when I want more than anything, for the sake of my own spiritual growth and that of those around me, for them to just sit still already! I try pointing at the priest extending the Eucharist. I say, "Listen! The bells!" And as a last resort, I issue the ultimate threat: No post-mass donuts! Dun dun duuuun!

Last week the most curious thing happened. I was kneeling  while my two-year-old stood next to me on the kneeler. I had my arm wrapped around his waist, because sometimes actual  physical restraint is the best method of keeping him still (plus I like to channel my inner "Elasti-Girl" and use my stretchy arms). After he had remained still for a few minutes, I moved my arm and just placed it on his tiny little man hip. He grabbed my hand and pulled it back to it's original position, so he was once again held tight and enveloped by my grip. I got a kick out of it and waited a few moments and tried again. Once again, he move my hand back, showing that he preferred to be in the tighter grip with my arm completely around him.

We (you and me specifically, but also people in general) are so afraid of rules and restraint. Aren't we? We want to make our own decisions and not let any one (or any Church, really) tell us what to do. One of the most common arguments against religion is that it is "a set of rules". Why can't we see that these rules and restrictions are God's arms wrapped around us? I want my kids to sit still for the good of others and for their own benefit, so they see the miracle before them. So does God!

The amazing paradox in all of it is that when we embrace the "rules" we also come to embrace the embrace! God's arms don't feel like chains. They feel like a protective, caring hug. But that comes from knowing Him too. I doubt my little guy would have enjoyed being gripped by a stranger, but my arm was comfort to him.

Is there a teaching or position of the Church that you struggle with? As parents we have a unique perspective of why boundaries, rules and structure are important - necessary even, so why do we fight them? Is it fear? A lack of trust? Pride? How can we embrace the Church which wants to extend God's embrace to us?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

TADA Goes the Sugar Plum Fairy!

It's hardly Christmas without the Nutcracker! Here's an exclusive Mom Squad Blog giveaway to see this amazing show this weekend. I have two four-packs courtesy of TADA studios. One for Saturday's 3pm performance and one for Sunday's. Email me if you want to go! Both performances are in Blake High School of the Arts' beautiful theater! Since the show is this weekend, you'll have to swing by Spirit FM and pick up the tickets - and take a tour while you're here! Happy Advent to you!

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Stocking Full of Lessons

Copyright 2015 Abby Brundage. All rights reserved.
1985. I saw my fifth birthday and snow in my backyard for the final time. My parents had shoveled enough from our little suburban-Milwaukee row house yard and finally said (as though we were in a predictable and weakly-written movie), “No more! We’re moving to Florida!” Cue the montage with the Kenny Loggins song. We arrived in the Sunshine State in August. Yep. August. In Florida.

Welcome to Florida! We have oranges! We have beaches! We have Disney World! We have 132% humidity for ten months of the year! Woo hoo. We’re home.

I’ve grown to love my home or perhaps I’m just too hot to care anymore. While I’m not quite willing to call myself a “Floridian” I definitely have more of Florida’s culture in me than Wisconsin’s. My parents, on the other hand, have held tightly to their Midwestern roots and passions, like wearing a Packer sweatshirt on a 89-degree day and eating raw beef, shrimp & herring on New Year’s. One tradition we celebrated when I young was St. Nicholas Day. I was shocked when I talked to my Florida friends about it and they had no idea that a surprise stocking could arrive on the morning of December 6th!

One day a couple of years ago I was talking about receiving gifts on the feast of St. Nicholas and finally got tired of the blank stares, so I did some research and found out that this is a very specific tradition to a few northern and Midwestern towns, including Milwaukee. Do you celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas?

It was pretty simple. On the morning of December 6th, my sister and I would wake to the sight of a stocking on the bathroom counter. Not sure why St. Nick couldn’t put it in a less private place, but whatev! They were bonus presents, so I wasn’t going to complain. There was nothing fancy in them. Just stuff like lip gloss, some candy, maybe a new pen or small toy. We knew St. Nicholas had visited while we were sleeping. This took the place of any stocking gifts on Christmas Day, but it was a great way to remind us of the wonderful Saint from whom Santa Claus is derived.

Now as my kids get to the age where Santa is becoming a pretty big deal, I am trying to think of ways to put some extra emphasis on St. Nicholas. It’s tough to compete with the marketing and advertising budget that the world has, so I love that this generous and thoughtful man has his own day. My boys are still too young for a big theological lesson, so for now, I throw in a race car or another small toy and an orange in the toe of the stocking. I just use it as a way to tell them this great Saint’s story. Here’s the story behind the orange!

If you have older kids, I have a great idea to share. First I’ll tell you, it’s not my idea. A listener called me up and said she used to do this with her kids and feel free to pass it on (Thanks Midge!). She calls them Grace & Mercy Cards. They are coupons you can use as stocking stuffers that can assist you in teaching the kids about, well, grace and mercy! Design them yourself as plain or as fancy as you’d like. The gist: Getting something you don’t deserve (grace) and not getting something you do (mercy). They are two separate coupons that your kids can “cash in” when they choose.

How might they choose to use their Grace & Mercy Coupons?

Scenario 1: Little John-Paul didn’t eat his dinner and doesn’t get dessert. But wait! He hands over his “Grace” coupon and gets that cupcake he didn’t earn.

Scenario 2: 12-year-old Mary Elizabeth lied about getting in trouble in school and you sentenced her to a weekend of restrictions. She uses her “Mercy” coupon and shaves 24 hours off her time and gets to go for ice cream with friends.

I wouldn’t say it’s theologically air-tight, but it’s a good starting point. As I think of ways the kids might use these coupons I realize it might be a greater lesson in grace and mercy for us moms. In some scenarios it would be hard to accept the coupon and follow through, so again, we’ll get a small glimpse into how our God is so awesome.

Stuff those stockings with a lesson on grace & mercy this St. Nicholas Day. I’d love to see what you design, so snap a pic and post it in the comments or share it on Twitter and tag it #Grace&MercyCoupon. Be sure to mention me so I can share it too. I’m @abbyspirit. In what scenarios do you imagine your kids would use these coupons? Do you think it will be hard to hold up your end of the bargain?

Monday, November 16, 2015

And the winner is...

Alright, moms! I counted the number of individual entries (no duplicates) and entered the range into a random number generator then counted down from the top (see the pic above for proof, if you have very good vision). Congratulations to... Melissa J! Email me with your home address and I'll send out your two tickets to VeggieTales Live!

To the non-winners (never any "losers!") there are still many more chances to win. Tomorrow morning on The Big Big House Morning Show around 7:30am and at our last two Veggies for Hope stops today and tomorrow. And you're the first ones to hear this: Wednesday is "Winning Wednesday." What's "Winning Wednesday?" I'm glad you asked!

Every hour on The Big Big House Morning Show and on The Way Home (so 6-10am and 3-7pm) you'll have a chance to call in and win a family four pack of tickets to the show AND on Thursday we'll give away a four pack with a Meet & Greet! Hooray!