Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Quitter's Perspective

Copyright 2013 Abby Brundage.
All rights reserved.
Have you ever started a journal and quit? I can hardly write that sentence with a straight face. Every time I get motivated to journal I think, THIS. This is the time I'm going to stick with it. But what's going to be different this time? Hmm... This time I'll get a more expensive journal. This time I'll get a cheaper, no frills journal. It will show why I'm really in it. This time I'll follow an on-line program. This time I'll just write. This time I'll color around the margins! Seriously - all of those are actual thoughts and journals I've bought, started and quit. Quickly.

I have a journal sitting next to me now. And it keeps opening to the same page. Must be a rip in the binding. I bought this journal as a sign-in book for my 10-year high school reunion. So the first two pages are old classmates' names and email addresses. But since then, 2008, I've gone back to this soft maroon (GO BHS!) book when I just felt the need to talk to God. This one journal has entries from 2010, 2012, 2014 a 2013 letter to my husband that I wrote and never delivered and even that dated tracing of Liam's and my hands.

One of the best reasons to journal, in my experience and opinion is that it give us perspective. We can look back and see what we were thankful for, what we were worried about, what God was showing us & what we were pleading with God to do. The 2014 entries in this mishmashed journal are all the same format. Two lists.

List 1: Ten Things That Went Well Today.

List 2: Ten Truths for Tomorrow.

As I look back over these words, I am taken back to pain, comfort, exhaustion, determination, uncertainty and peace. How all that can exist in one person on one day is remarkable. It's a testament to what God can create in someone who is searching for His presence. Here's a glimpse.

Ten Things That Went Well Today
1. I made the boys a healthy dinner.
2. I got a nap!
3. I didn't miss him that much.
4. The weather was beautiful.
5. My dad and I hung out and drank a beer.
6. I went to my divorce group and talked.
7. I said out loud that I was unhappy.
8. I killed the spider!
9. I heard the boys laughing hysterically.
10. I was reminded that Jesus wants me now.

Ten Truths for Tomorrow
1. I will love again.
2. My boys and I will have a safe home.
3. My boys will know Jesus.
4. I will be joyful.
5. I will find peace.
6. I will use my voice to glorify God.
7. I will be grateful.
8. I will be healthy.
9. I will place God first.
10. God will provide all of my needs.

That was almost two years ago. Sometimes I find myself missing the days when my divorce was fresh. It's crazy because it hurt. Badly. But it was so beautiful and grace-filled at the same time.

We are so afraid to suffer. We don't want to feel pain, physically or emotionally. Even after my experience I still cower away from the idea of suffering, but I have to look back on occasion and remember that in the midst of suffering God is revealed to us in deep, profound and life-changing ways.

So I encourage you - write it down. Write it as often as you can even if it's only twice a month. Then believe that whatever you write will be something you can look back on and recall God's presence, grace and mercy.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Before & After

I’m just 10 lbs from my goal weight…

I think that’s going to be written on my tombstone.

Scale Series 2 by Benjamin Earwicker (2008) via

I have never been the “thin” girl. The one who could eat anything and not gain weight. I’ve envied her. Father, forgive me. But no, I’ve never been her. I’ve always been a sucker for the exercise and weight loss infomercials though. I’ve spent many hours (and eaten many snacks) watching everything from Deal-a-Meal to Sweatin’ to the Oldies, Insanity to P90X. I’ve googled, How many calories do you burn watching people work out? For some reason the search produced no results. C’mon! Somebody do the research!

The hook, the clincher, the thing that gets you to make the purchase (or at least watch the infomercial the next time it comes on at 2 AM while you’re nursing the baby): The Before & After Photos (I’ll call them B&As)! The transformations are incredible! And now, thanks to social media, these photos aren’t just relegated to the flyer that comes with the DVD. We see them in our Facebook newsfeed and as we scroll through the filtered world of Instagram.

Folded in with my envy of the “after” is always a little suspicion. Did the person really do that in 30 days? What about the lighting? Is she sucking it in?

I’ve taken B&As before. It’s a great way to see the progress you’ve made. Or not made. I’ll admit that I’ve been disappointed when, in order to see the progress, I’ve had to pinch and zoom in. Look, right there. There used to be a second roll and now there’s only one-and-a-half rolls!

I think we all can agree when it comes to weight loss, we want to see results, but sometimes the change that is important is not evident in the photo. I think it’s commonly known as a non-scale victory. Your cholesterol comes down. Your back stops hurting. You can jump rope with your daughter.

After my last “before” photo session (which is basically, me propping the phone up on the ironing board), I stared at the pics and thought, Do I demand to SEE results in other areas of my life? Do I look for visible proof where maybe the stuff going on under the surface is just as or even more important?

Do you find yourself looking for tangible evidence that God is working, or do you celebrate the victories in your heart like feeling peace when you would’ve normally worried, showing patience when your teenager rolls her eyes or receiving strength to resist the temptation to gossip?

Just like it’s a lot easier to post a photo with the caption Down 10 lbs! 8 inches lost! I think it’s also easier to talk about our great God when we have a concrete blessing – the check that showed up in the mail right when we needed it to. But our God is SO great that He is constantly producing results within His sons and daughters. We put in a little exercise and cooperate with His amazing grace and it happens.

God’s transformation of us is continual – we work it out with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). Don’t think that the non-scale victory isn’t exactly the victory that He wants to see.

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!