A Letter To My Pregnant Self

Dear Ashton,

I know you’re restless. I know you’re so ready to meet the sweet baby in your giant belly…to see her, to hold her, to know her and watch her grow. I know it’s hot. And your ankles have fat rolls. And she’s sitting so low in your pelvis, you’re having chronic nerve pain that some (probably male) jerk has eloquently named “lightning crotch.” And I promise not to go all Trace Adkins on you and tell you you’re gonna miss this. Because you’re not. No one misses those things. But I am asking you to do something crazy. Enjoy it.

Enjoy it because it will never be like this again. Go walk around a store and take as much time as you want. Go get an Icee at the gas station because the whim strikes you. Get in and out of the car a hundred times running pointlessly around town. Nap when you’re tired. Watch a movie. Sit your butt on a couch and watch TV and eat snacks uninterrupted and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CHERISH IT!

You’ve always been such a good student. You’ve read all the books, taken all the classes, asked all the questions, and sought out advice. And sweet pea…none of it will prepare you. Because nothing on this planet can prepare you. You weren’t a mother before, and now you are. A fundamental cosmic shift has taken place. The Lord is doing a new thing. I know you know this intellectually, but I know it experientially, and it cannot be overstated. Don’t worry about being prepared. Walk into that delivery room with open hands and a heart willing to give all of yourself to this child and you will have done everything you need to do. I mean, yeah, build the crib. But don’t get bogged down in some “pre-baby checklist.”

You’re going to wonder if you’ve made a mistake. You’re going to wonder why you wanted this in the first place. You’re going to wonder if you’re cut out to be a mom and know that it’s too late to wonder that. You’re going to sit in the bathroom floor with the fan on to drown out the sound of your baby’s cries, shouting at God that if he controls the whole universe…why can’t he help your baby GO TO SLEEP?!

Your baby’s spit up will defy physics. You will watch as the carpet, the couch, the rocking chair you obsessed over, are all covered with stains you would need a degree in chemistry to get out. Actually, scratch that. Your husband and father both have degrees in chemistry and the stains are still there. You will sit burping her, bleary-eyed in the dead of night, and feel the cups of your bra fill with her vomit. This, despite the fact that you are wearing a tank top, t-shirt, and robe over said bra.

And that bra. While we’re on the subject, it’s your nursing bra. You’re not using it for nursing. You’re using it because you realized it was you or breastfeeding, and only one could win. You made a survival decision for you and your baby both. And now your breasts, the same ones who would not release their milk as your baby screamed a scream so fierce it made you dizzy with nausea, are taunting you by leaking that milk on all your shirts.

You see, dear girl, this mothering thing is not for the weak. So in the moments where you feel weak, remember that you’re not. No one weak could do what you’re about to do. No one weak would go through a 14 step process just to use the bathroom and then walk out and pour love and warmth and comfort over the squirming little creature that tore some very important things on its way into this world. I need you to hear me when I tell you that you CAN do it. You are meant to do it. You are the best person for the job.

And can I tell you something else? It’s not all combat. In fact, when you add it all up together, the hard moments don’t seem to matter much in comparison to the sweet ones. You will hold that baby in the hospital, just a few hours old, and feel more like yourself than you’ve ever felt. You will hold her in the warm yellow glow of her nursery, making silent, awed eye contact with your husband, feeling like if someone were looking in the window at this scene, it would look like something out of 1950’s Disney animation. Yes, your world will burst into Mary Blair-style technicolor when she smiles, when she coos, when she rests her fat little cheek on your shoulder, and when she sleeps peacefully…a teeny tiny burrito in her comparatively giant crib.

Your eyes will fill with tears drawn from a well deep within when she is–all of a sudden–able to do something she couldn’t do before. One day she could only lie flat on her back, and now she can roll! One day she could only scoot, and now she can crawl! And so quickly it will become, “One day they laid her on my chest, and now she’s pushing her walker across the floor, calling me ‘mama.'”

For no cliche has ever been more true than this one: The days are long, but the years are short. There will be long days, to be sure. Days when you pray for a time machine to fast forward past the crying, past the sleepless nights, past the feelings of helplessness you both have. But there will also be days where you are planning her first birthday party, and you actually cannot believe her life can be measured in years now.

So treasure these days, dear heart. Rest as much as you can. The sun is setting on your newlywed days and I want you to soak them up for all they’re worth. You’re about to be broken down and built into something different, so just love who you are right now.

And please, for the love of all, eat something more than a bowl of ramen noodles on the night of September 8th, 2019. Trust me.

What Quiet Times look like for me


First of all, what is “quiet time?” When I use that term, I’m referring to time spent praying and reading the Bible. I was very involved in my youth group in middle school and high school, and that’s when I really started to put my faith into practice. My youth minister always taught me that as a Christian, it’s not enough to just go to church on Sundays. For your faith to really grow, it’s vital that you spend time with God on your own. Quiet time has looked different for me in different seasons. It’s also the area of my walk with the Lord where I have struggled the most. I wanted to share with you what has worked best for me through the years. If this is something you’ve never done but would like to start, I hope this post will give you an idea of where to begin. If you too have struggled in this area, I hope this post will be encouraging.

The Summer Project Quiet Time

In college, I was part of a student ministry called Cru. Through that organization, I went on a summer mission project where, removed from all distractions, I participated in bible studies, had a summer job, and met for discipleship with a mentor. I came back the following summer as a student staffer. In our schedule, we had times blocked off on many days where we would have “dates with Jesus.” We went somewhere and just got alone with God and prayed, journaled, listened, and read the Bible with no time crunch. Needless to say, those were some of the most profound quiet times I’ve ever had. I have such sweet, vivid memories of those times and it was in that stillness that God spoke to me through His word, through the voice of the Holy Spirit, and through other people I was around. There are two pieces of wisdom I’ve taken away from those experiences:

1) If you really want to hear God’s voice and cultivate the ministry of the Holy Spirit in your life, you can’t expect him to shout through the noise. Sometimes you have to fight the busy-ness and carve out time to just be with him. When you seek out God’s presence, he will speak to you.

2) Not every quiet time is going to be profound. When you practice a discipline over a lifetime, not every single day is going to feel like your world is being rocked. I struggled for a long time feeling like my day-to-day quiet times were inadequate, and I ultimately let that discourage me from doing them at all. But the truth is, life is not a mission trip, even though we are on mission. There are going to be distractions and responsibilities that make time with the Lord something you have to fight for. But it’s those little moments that build up and create space in your life for the Holy Spirit to speak and work. Time with the Lord on the days you don’t “feel like it,” or the days that are busy, or the days where you don’t know what to pray…that is the spiritual discipline that sanctifies and builds a faith you can lean on during the hard days that will inevitably come.

Reading through the Bible

In seasons of my life where I have a bit more margin and can dedicate more time to Bible reading, I read through books of the Bible. I’ve found that for me personally, doing things like a Bible in a year reading plan are not as fruitful because they start to feel like homework. I get really discouraged and get so focused on getting all the material in that I’m not reflecting on what I’m reading. If you are a person who is motivated by a challenge, those types of plans may be just the thing you need to get excited about reading the Bible daily! For me, it works better if I just choose a book of the Bible to focus on and read through it without giving myself a time frame.


I am not a morning person AT. ALL. I have honestly tried and it’s just not the way I’m wired. With that being the case, there are seasons where the thought of diving deeply into the Word first thing in the morning feels very daunting. Some seasons are busier than others. This is where I have found devotionals to be helpful. I prefer devotionals that have a lot of substance and are more a commentary on the Scripture reading for the day rather than just a pithy little pep talk. In choosing a devotional, pay closer attention to the focus on the Bible rather than who the devotion is being marketed to. I’m not trying to read Chicken Soup for the 20-something-newlywed-cat mom’s Soul. I want something that really focuses my mind on God’s word and illuminates it in a way that gives me practical application.


I know writing in a journal isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but I can honestly say that for me, journaling changed the game. My mind is always racing, and I battle a lot of anxiety. Writing out my prayers has helped me to stay focused, and it has been a sweet way to reflect on answered prayers. I also use my prayer journal to take sermon notes at church, so everything the Lord is teaching me is all in one place. What tends to work for me is to read and pray in the morning and then journal in the evening when my mind is more clear and I can reflect on the day.

I know that got a little long, but I hope this was helpful to those of you who are trying to cultivate this discipline in your own lives. If you fall into that category, what resources have been helpful to you? What has worked and what hasn’t worked? I’d love to hear from you here or on Instagram!

When the Plan Changes


I met Andrew the summer before his senior year at Murray State. Before he would officially ask me to be his girlfriend, he sat me down to tell me about his future plans. He was applying to dental school and planning to enlist in the Navy for the Commissioned Officer program. I was impressed that he even had a plan, let alone a good one. He wanted to make sure that I knew what I was signing up for if I dated him. I was already head over heels for him by this time, and the Navy would allow me to travel the world like I had always dreamed. Needless to say, I said yes to being his girlfriend. Over the next several years, we began to build a life around serving in the Navy. Then, one day-as happens in so many lives that are going according to plan-the phone rang.

In the summer of 2018, we got a very abrupt call that Andrew would be receiving a medical discharge from the Navy. To make a long story short, a very minor medical issue was detected during one of Andrew’s Navy physicals. After doing everything we could to plead our case, it became very clear that a discharge was unavoidable. I’m leaving out a lot of detail, but suffice it to say it was a very stressful time in our lives. We were confident that we had made the right choice in joining the military, and it was so confusing when God closed that door. We also felt like we were scrambling, having received this news during Andrew’s fourth year with very little time to make alternate plans for after graduation.

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So, for those who are keeping up with The Cudes, Andrew is no longer in the Navy. He has been accepted into a residency program with the University of Kentucky, which means we will be living in Lexington for at least one more year. We both feel so much peace and gratitude about that now, but we didn’t feel that way when we first got that phone call. Serving in the military was not just a way to pay for dental school. For Andrew, serving in the military was his dream. We know there are much worse circumstances out there. We’re grateful for God’s re-direction. But this was the biggest curve-ball we had been thrown as a couple, and it represented the death of a dream we had for our life together.

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m a girl who likes a plan. In seasons of my life where that plan is taken away, I feel so lost. The years between graduating college and getting married were so tough for me, because there was no clear-cut path. Even though I “know” I am never in control, I tend to forget that fact until I am confronted with the reality all over again. I feel like God has been gently yet clearly reminding me of the truth that He alone is in control and knows what is best for my life. Even things that seem good from our human standpoint pale in comparison to the glory of His plan for us. I don’t know what circumstance you are in, and I know there are many circumstances FAR worse than what we have been through, but I hope it’s comforting to know you’re not alone. My prayer is that the Lord would continue teaching me to hold my plans with open hands, to find peace and rest in my lack of control rather than fear and strife, and to trust Him as a sovereign Lord and generous Father who gives good gifts. Maybe you need to pray that, too?

What wisdom has God given you in this area? What Bible verses have been helpful to you? Let me know in the comments here or on Instagram and I’ll share those verses on my Instagram story so we can all be encouraged!