Happy Birthday Brooke’s Brain!

I can’t believe its been a year since I started this blog.  It was “easy” to start the blog, I just wrote what I was thinking and hit “publish”.  It took me until April (aka 7 MONTHS!!) to publicly start sharing my writing with others.   I wasn’t a writer… I had no formal training minus English 101 in college… TEN years ago.  In my mind, writers are serious people.  They read a lot, study a lot, are great editors, have writer friends, make lots of money, and spend hours writing every day.  That was/is not me.  Taking on the title of “writer” was scary.  I still am not 100% happy with it… but it describes what I am doing… putting thoughts on paper.  So, a year later, I will haphazardly take it on.

It’s also scary to put your thoughts on paper and allow others the opportunity to read them/judge them.  That was probably another one of the main reasons it took me so long to share my thoughts.  Thankfully, most of the feedback I have received has been positive and encouraging.  The biggest honor in the last year is hearing that friends have taken my posts and discussed them with their spouse to work on marriage communication.

I have no idea where my writing is going to lead me but for now I am happy with publishing 83 blog posts this year!  That is a pretty big accomplishment for this busy wife, mama and friend!

Thanks for being a part of this journey with me!  I’d love to hear which posts stick out the most to you?

love, brooke

Half a Decade

My sweet, itty bitty baby boy turns five years old today and he is no longer a baby boy.  Instead, he is over 4 feet tall and it pains me to say/realize that I can’t pick him up much longer. He has grown physically, mentally, and emotionally so much in his short life.

When I think about myself in those terms… I have also grown and changed so much in five years. Physically, I’m way smaller than I was after I had him (thank goodness 😳😂) and I’m stronger (probably from trying to pick up a 50lb+ kid). Mentally, I’m much more laid back and go with the flow.  I think having a boy chilled me out a bit. I still have anxiety but very rarely is it about being a mom. Sometimes I suffer from mom guilt but I try to keep things in perspective and know that extra screen time isn’t going to hurt him (I hope).  Emotionally, well, it depends on the day. Some days I feel confident and happy and others I feel incompetent and worried. I guess some things may never change.  

Over the last five years, I’ve been blessed to make many mom friends. We have banded together to love each other’s children and support one another. The hundreds of weekly texts checking in with one another, praying for one another, cracking jokes and offering support are invaluable. It truly takes a village to raise a child and I’m grateful for such a solid one.  I’m also grateful to have a wonderful husband who happens to also be a fantastic father. He picks up the pieces where I’m unable. He rounds out JB’s life in so many ways. When I want to helicopter parent, he nudges me to let JB’s independence shine. For the most part, we make a good duo.

Motherhood definitely changes you. It makes you patient, crazy, happy, sad, calm, and stressed… often at the same time. You learn to be flexible. You can’t control nap times, illness, diaper blow outs, or separation anxiety. But, life is more fun having this precious little boy in our lives to keep us on our toes… even if there is less sleep than before.

Today, I’m grateful for the little boy who made me a mom, his dad who loves us both so much, our families who are always cheering us on, and our friends who are full of nothing but love and support.  

love, brooke

Ode to Claire

Claire’s love for texting and my never ending texting skills became an instant match.  I’d estimate that we text 100 times back and forth each day.  My husband would say that is a low estimate.  

I officially met her while she was six months pregnant with her second son and working the check out at our church consignment sale.  She and Scott had visited our Sunday school class before but if not yet had a conversation with them.  Fast forward to the Sunday before Christmas, and I saw them at the 8:30am service.  After the service, I asked if they were coming to Sunday School and was informed that Claire wasn’t feeling well and didn’t think she could sit through the class.  I later learned that she was in labor and Cabell was born two days later.

It took me 4 months to finally take Claire a meal after having Cabell.  I was so embarrassed it took me that long.  Claire was so appreciative because Scott was traveling and she didn’t have to cook while solo parenting.  That’s when I realized that she was also a stay at home mom.  We started hanging out more through church and play dates and slowly became good friends.  

claire4Claire and I have so much in common.  We are both the oldest of three girls and raised outdoors- fishing, playing in the woods, and working in the garden.  Both of our fathers are outdoorsmen who were lucky enough to end up with three daughters.  They taught us to fish, get dirty, and love being outside.  We both love cold beer, good food, Jesus, the ocean, and spending time with our family and friends.  

claire2Claire’s house was being remodeled for a tv show in July 2015 and she had to move her family out for two weeks.  I invited her and the boys to join JB and I at my family’s C shack on the GA coast.  I thought I knew her pretty well, but vacationing with someone makes you get to know them really well.  Thankfully, in this case, that was a good thing.  I had expected Claire to be like most of my friends; to have never seen a crab trap before, tossed a cast net nor know much about fishing.  Instead, she could identify many more fish than me and can throw an 8 foot cast net (I can only throw a 5 footer).  I learned that many of her childhood vacations were to south Florida for fishing and crabbing.  Her love of crabs became apparent that week with her help in not only catching them but also in cleaning them (aka the dirty work).  The night we ate the crabs, we both sat at the table for an hour drinking beer and raving about how good the crabs were.  Our boys were running all around us like crazy but we could not lose focus until all the crabs were eaten.  That would have been a total sin.  

claire6Claire is a runner.  And she is fast.  We “trained” together for my second half marathon.  She’d run pushing a stroller (I didn’t have one) and was still kind enough to slow down and allow me to keep up.  We’ve done numerous races “together”.  Claire is always standing at the finish line waiting on me and cheering me on.  It always feels good to have someone at the finish but Claire makes you feel like you were the best runner there- even if 15,000 people have already finished before you (this is true for my races).

Claire is a cheerleader.  Literally, she was a high school cheerleader, but figuratively, she is now a cheerleader of life.  She is an original encourager of my blog.  Recently, she read a book and said, “Brooke- you could write this better than the author did.”  This is very kind of her since I have never written a book.  She was one of the first Luma testers and immediately wrote a 5 star review.  If you tell Claire that you want to do something, she will help you do it.  She encouraged me to go to Alaska to visit my sister and then watched JB two afternoons while I was gone so Peck wouldn’t miss work.  Everyone needs a friend like Claire.

claire10Claire is an encourager.  As we all know, life has its ups and downs.  Claire always sees the glass as half full.  When you are feeling down, she helps lift you up.  When you want to talk or vent, she is always ready and able to listen.  The year or so around Luma starting was very difficult for me.  Lots of transitions and loneliness with my husband needing to work so much.  Claire provided so much encouragement during this time and wisdom.  She has been a big part of helping me through the start-up widow life.

claire7Claire loves my son like another child.  She gives him so much encouragement, love and direction.  He loves play dates at her house and she always has the best snacks.  Since JB was gluten free most of his life, she always made sure he had a special sweet treat at her boys’ birthday parties or other events.  Making sure he didn’t feel left out was always so sweet of Claire.  

Claire is a lover.  She loves her family mightily and her friends too.  She is constantly checking on others and providing support when she can.  When I lost my grandmother, Claire was the first one to bring us a meal.  When someone in our family is sick, she is the first to drop off groceries or cupcakes.  She takes a meal to every family she knows as soon as they have a baby.  Even people she doesn’t even know.  Anything she can do to help or show love to others, she is happy to do.

Claire is a prayer warrior.  It doesn’t matter the size or concern- she is happy to lift it up in prayer.  She prays for you even when you don’t ask or know it.  I challenged her to do a prayer journal during Lent.  She did it everyday and has continued to.  I wish her consistency and diligence will rub off on me!

claire3Claire is a busy bee.  She goes hard from the (early) moment she wakes up until the end.  She is her own housekeeper and has a well executed plan of cleaning the same part of her house on the same day each week to keep up with things.  She will push a double stroller with two boys in it on a 4 mile trek to drop one off at preschool.  At 37.5 weeks pregnant with twins, Claire was out walking the 4th of July neighborhood parade.  Later, she went home to “rest” but still ended up making a homemade flag cookie cake.  That pretty much sums it up.

IMG_2658Claire is so humble.  She does what she is called to do without wanting any attention.  She was a VBS co-director this year and didn’t want any public attention for her hard work.  If you give her a compliment, she is a bit hesitant to accept it and likely to respond with “you are sweet.”  If I had to guess, she is probably a bit embarrassed to be reading this post about herself.

claire5Claire is the most amazing mom.  She always has some fun outing planned for her boys and makes fun out of the most mundane tasks- like grocery shopping.  Her patience (especially as a mom of two little guys) runs deep and she rebounds quickly.  I envy her resilience and out pouring of love in situations where I’d probably just give up and walk away.  On another family vacation, my husband admired her patience.  It’s this amount of love and grace that made God know she’d be the perfect mom to not only two boys but twin girls too.  Of all my friends, I truly believe that Claire has the positivity and strength to not only “get by” as a mom of four children aged 5 and under- but to also thrive.  

Claire, we are all raising our glasses to you and Scott in the coming months. We are here to help any way you will let us.  So proud of you and thankful to have you as my BFFL.  Can’t wait to meet your beautiful girls.  Scott is in big trouble if they are as pretty, smart and sweet as you and your sisters!

love, brooke

2017 VBS Missions Wrap Up

Last week, our wonderful church hosted Vacation Bible School for 250 children.  It was a great week filled with music, crafts, science, story telling and recreation!  The children learned that they can be (super) heroes for God by studying leaders from the Bible.

I was lucky enough to be the mission donations coordinator.  My job consisted of choosing organizations to support and determining which donations they needed most.  Then, I compiled this list into a schedule for the week.  Each day, the campers were encouraged to bring in specific items to donate to that day’s ministry.  As donations came in, they were sorted, counted, boxed and then delivered to each ministry.  We collected cash & coins all week and my awesome youth helper counted and rolled that money each day.  I also had the pleasure of announcing at the daily closing session how many items the kids had donated that day.  It was a really fun week!

In an effort to highlight some of the organizations we supported, I wanted to share a bit about what was collected and who will be receiving it.  I was able to visit a few of the ministries to deliver the donations and was able to see first hand what wonderful things they are doing to serve our community!

FullSizeRender (17)Monday

Items Collected: 595 Children’s Books

Organization: Smart Lunch Smart Kid at Grace UMC in Midtown


Delivering the donated books at Grace UMC was a full circle moment for me.  About 20 years ago, my church confirmation class (from Augusta) stayed at Grace UMC on our confirmation retreat.  We camped out in sleeping bags in a few of the Sunday School class rooms.  Fast forward 20 years, and I got to revisit this church as an adult.  

Grace UMC is located on Ponce de Leon- a major thoroughfare for Atlanta.  It is a quickly growing area with the new, shiny Ponce City Market close by and all of the boom of the beltline.  It also happens to be surrounded by a homeless community, a government funded housing project, and low income senior tower apartments.  Grace does a wonderful job supporting these communities through programs, meals, prayer, and worship.  One ministry- the Women’s Community Kitchen- serves lunch during the week.  It’s guests are roughly comprised of 1/3 lower income seniors, 1/3 homeless women, and 1/3 families from a local government housing apartment complex.  It is very inspiring to be around a church that physically serves its neighbors- in it’s own facility- with so much love and encouragement.

During the summer, the ministry team participates in the Smart Lunch Smart Kid ministry that serves meals to children who receive free or reduced lunch during the school year.  If it weren’t for these summer feeding programs, many children would go without lunch.  The smart component is to provide books for summer reading.

I was a bit hesitant to take the almost 600 books to them- thinking that it might be overwhelming or they may not all be needed.  Boy was I wrong!  When I arrived, youth volunteers helped unload my car and then immediately started sorting, organizing and putting the books on their shelves.  These books will be distributed to the children coming to eat lunch throughout the summer.  The director said that their goal is to distribute 5 books per child.  Research shows that five books over the summer will prevent the summer reading slide.  With 700 families living nearby in the government apartments, they will easily distribute the 600 books from our VBS plus will need many more.  So glad to see the books going to such a great effort.  Praise God!


Items Collected: Over 800 toiletry items

Organization:  Mountain View & Wesley Woods



Both Mountain View and Wesley Woods are low income senior residential facilities.  Many of their residents live on less than $1,000 per month and are on food stamps.  Unfortunately, food stamps do not cover personal items like toothbrushes/paste, toilet paper, shampoo/conditioner, soap, or other similar items.  As we all know, these items can be expensive and are always needed.  

Both organizations were so grateful for the donations!

FullSizeRender (16)Wednesday

Items Collected: 3,069 Diapers & 2124 Wipes

Organization: United Methodist Children’s Home


Anyone with a small child can tell you how expensive diapers are these days.  This was the one item I was a bit worried about people donating.  BUT, I was BLOWN away by the amount that God brought in through the VBS campers this day.  Totally OVERWHELMED.  The piles and piles of diapers just kept coming.  We completely ran out of boxes to put them in.  This was TWICE as many diapers that were brought in the previous year of VBS donations.

The UMCH provides a large sleeve of diapers each month to their foster families.  This is to help off-set the expensive cost of diapering a child.  VBS campers helped over 60 families with all of their diaper donations!

FullSizeRender (15)Thursday

Items Collected: 400 lbs of canned foods + laundry detergent + baby wipes

Organizations: Caring 4 Clarkston and Toco Hills Community Alliance


This was by far the most physical day I had of volunteering at VBS!  400 lbs of food for our church’s Clarkston food pantry!  I worked on my muscles by hauling, sorting, boxing, and wheeling heavy boxes to storage.  Yes, it was a lot of work- but it was so awesome to see how much God provided for these two ministries!

Caring 4 Clarkston is a monthly food pantry that our youth group staffs and runs in Clarkston, GA.  Clarkston has a large refugee population and we are happy to help support the community through non-perishable foods and baby supplies each month.  The donations included pasta, mac n cheese, canned meats/fruits, pasta sauce, and a wide variety of many other pantry items.

Toco Hills Community Alliance is a fantastic, well run organization.  They provide a hot lunch 4 days a week and have a large food pantry that allows guests to choose their own groceries.  In addition to canned goods, they often supply fresh fruits/vegetables along with meat productcs.  THCA also has a well organized clothing closet and provide utility financial assistance for those living in several zip codes.  We donated laundry detergent and baby wipes to them through these donations.  I was told that laundry detergent is always needed (not provided through food stamps) and baby wipes are always needed too.  Many of their guests use baby wipes as a way to bathe.  

While I was at THCA, the director said something to me that really stuck with me.  She was talking about how she is limited to who they can serve (guests must live in one of 15 zip codes).  She said if it were up to her, she’d serve anyone who needed anything because the gospel does not limit who can be served.  

FullSizeRender (14)Friday

Donated: 221 pairs of socks + 150 first aid supplies

Organization: OGUMC Mobile Soup Kitchen & Mercy Community Church


Y’all, I think this is the coolest ministry.  On Friday afternoon, members of our church load up a van with pre made sandwiches, snacks and a giant cooler full of soup and head to midtown Atlanta.  They wheel this food around along Ponce de Leon Ave and serve folks at several different spots.  When I think of Jesus living in Atlanta today, I would imagine him out serving lunch along this route.  A wide variety of folks are fed- homeless, day laborers, and drifters- but anyone is welcome.  It doesn’t matter who you are, you get a meal if you are hungry.  No matter if it’s raining, sweltering heat, or freezing cold, this group heads out to serve their community.  Isn’t that just the coolest?

Many of the guests who frequent this mobile food kitchen are always in need of new, clean socks.  They often have cuts, blisters or skin irritations that require simple first aid treatment.  These donations will go to help just that!


I loved serving as VBS missions coordinator!!  I wish I could do this once a month instead of just once a year.  

Thank you to all the VBS families who donated items and/or coins!  Thank you for being God’s hands and feet on this earth.  You have blessed so many as a result of your generous hearts this week!

learn & love, brooke


Smart Lunch Smart Kid Devotional

This weekend I was invited to a beautiful, catered affair…. An afternoon book club at a friend’s gorgeous home.  It was a special book club because the author of the book was there to lead the discussion.  To start the conversation, the hostess asked us all to go around and introduce ourselves and say a fun fact because many of us had never met.  The first lady owned a catering company, the next was a former Miss USA competitor, the next started a prominent charity, the next was an attorney, the next was in a top 10 music video, the next was a surgeon… you get the picture.  Then it was little ole me’s turn.  I could not think of one thing nearly as fantastic as what all of the previous women had said about themselves.  I felt so out of my league!

Yesterday, when I was telling my sister about the experience, she quickly reminded me of how I spent last week- volunteering with VBS.  I had the wonderful job of organizing the mission donations for the week.  Each day I was overwhelmed by how much God provided that day.  The campers, AKA God’s hands and feet, brought in 600 books on Monday, 800 toiletries on Tuesday, 3,000 diapers on Wednesday, 400 lbs of canned goods on Thursday, and 221 pairs of socks on Friday.  All of these donations were delivered to 7 organizations in our community to serve those in need.  Now, when I think of VBS, I can remind myself of how much God used me to do his service.  I can find comfort in knowing that God made me, honed my skills, and then allowed opportunities for me to use the gifts He gave me.  I may not be a surgeon, Miss US nor an attorney- but in God’s eyes, I am just as powerful for His Kingdom.  This has been a great reminder to me that I need to look at God for His approval and not myself or others.

As we make lunches today, not one of us does it all.  We may be the only person putting the sandwiches in ziplock bags… but before we even touch that sandwich, several other hands have already purchased the supplies, delivered them, set them up, and then made the sandwich to hand to you for the bag.  Every single one of those jobs is just as important.  Without each of them, the next could not occur.

This is just like the body of Christ.  Romans 12:4-5 tells us “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”  To me, this is a complicated way of saying that we all have strengths and skills.  Some of us are leaders, others are doers, while others are organizers.  Some of us think about logistics, others try to make things speedy and efficient and others are cheerleaders.  All of these skills are important when trying to accomplish a common goal.

As I think back on the missions donated at VBS, I think about how everyone doing a little is what accomplished SO much.  No one person brought in 1,000 items on their own.  No two people brought in 500 items on their own.  Instead, everyone pitched in some and with the sheer force of our numbers…. Everyone doing a little made a WHOLE lot.  We each contributed to the Body of Christ to do His work and serve so many more than we ever could individually.

So, today, as we each do our “little” job in this big process of SLSK… don’t forget that each part is just as important as the rest as we all work together to feed others as the Body of Christ.  Give thanks to God for giving you your skills and bring Him joy by continuing to use them to further His Kingdom.

Prayer:  God, thank you for bringing all of us individuals together today to form your Body.  Make us mindful of the gifts you have given us and how we can share them with others.  We pray your blessings over these meals and the homes where they will be enjoyed.  Allow this food to be a physical nourishment but also a spiritual reminder of Your love.  Thank you for using your people to recognize a need and use your Body of believers to address it.  In your name we pray.  Amen.

Embracing Emotions

When I hear the word emotional- I immediately think of it in a negative way. We use it to generally categorize the un-happy feelings- sadness, grief, anger, or frustration. But, if I’m happy- I usually just say that I’m happy instead of calling it emotional- even though happiness is an emotion too.  

Today was an emotional rollercoaster.  I started the day at church surrounded by our village of close friends. JB and all of his buddies were up on the altar singing and dancing their little hearts out to their VBS songs. I was so happy to see him praising God while having so much fun. I was so happy to be among my friends who worked so hard to make VBS so wonderful for all of our children.  My friends have mad skills- decorating, baking, organizing, planning, leading, and preparing.  I was grateful to be a part of a church that invests in its children through a wonderful week of VBS. As VBS missions coordinator, I was blown away by the faithful donations brought in every single day by VBS campers to support others in our community. Just so much happiness and gratitude at one moment that it hit me hard. I just couldn’t physically contain my emotions anymore and the tears started to come down.  

This afternoon, I was thinking about my dad and my love for him. Of course I started crying again as I thought of this love and gratitude for the effect he has had on my life. Tearfully, I sent him this text:

“Happy Father’s Day daddy. I enjoyed working with you around c shack and crabbing/drinking beer for hours a few weeks ago. Thanks for teaching me the value of hard work. And how to fish. Love you so much!!”

I’ve been trying to embrace my emotions recently. In the past, I’d try to hide them or was ashamed by them. “Come on Brooke, get it together!” But now, I’m realizing that they are a natural part of being self aware. Happy tears can’t flow if I’m not searching for gratitude. Sadness for others is also a gift as I’m able to help carry their burdens. Being sentimental can’t happen if I’m not reflecting on what others mean to me. Writing my “Odes” can be very emotional as I reflect on what someone means to me. But, I’m thankful I’m able to let them know what an affect they have on me and it makes me even more grateful for their presence in my life.

How do you embrace your emotions?

love, brooke

Ode to SAG

My least favorite thing about the United Methodist church is our pastor merry go round.  Every 4-8 years, a pastor leaves a church and a new one usually takes his/her place.  In theory, this is great for the growth and transition of churches but in practice is a sad time for the congregation.  I am especially struggling with it now as our beloved, SAG, Susan Allen Grady, is leaving my church and going to another.

Since we were on spring break when the announcement was made that she was leaving our church, I found out on Facebook.  I just couldn’t believe it- I never expected her to be leaving us this summer.  I still haven’t found it in me to “like” that Facebook post.

SAG and I started at our church around the same time.  I first met her at a low country boil at our senior pastor’s home.  She seemed reserved but very friendly.  I had no idea that she would become one of my biggest mentors over the coming years.

The first time I was able to work with her it was to help plan a church picnic.  It was during the planning meetings that I begin to appreciate SAG’s honesty and diplomatic processing.  Her witty sense of humor also started to shine.  She has no problem poking fun at herself either.

As the years went by, she asked me to help plan several other events and I had the joy of continuing to work with her.  I got to see her in action as a preacher and a young mother to a high spirited daughter.  On top of that, her husband is also a preacher.  That is a lot to balance and she always does it with a smile and plenty of grace.

She works to make everyone feel special by being generous with her time.  She never rushes a conversation and always makes her office open to whomever needs to chat.  SAG has been a cheerleader for my writing by encouraging me to share it publicly and by helping review/edit a small group study discussion I wrote.

She also has been instrumental in me completing two Disciple classes over the last few years.  Because of her encouragement, my Bible knowledge has grown exponentially.  She has also helped gently push me in starting and leading two small groups.  As a result, my spiritual friendships have deep roots now and my faith has grown deeper as well.

In my mind, the biggest effect SAG has had on me is through establishing a weekly communion service.  Last week, I was able to say a few words during one of her last communion visits.  Here is what I shared (through lots of tears):

FullSizeRender (7)“At this stage in motherhood life, getting to Sunday School and “big church” is difficult with a loud, rambunctious 4 year old son.  Thankfully, this communion service has helped me fill this church void each week.  Susan has consistently filled it with uplifting and thought provoking homilies.  Her commitment to recruiting others to serve and involving attendees in participating does not go unnoticed.  I feel this weekly service is one of the most intimate opportunities at our church.  I’m grateful for her leadership in starting the service and continuing to make it a priority.

Susan is an encourager.  Between my writing, calling to share at communion last year, and forming small groups- Susan is always there to help and cheer me along.  She makes herself available for mentoring and encouragement whenever needed.  I appreciate your investment in me and my faith.

As a fellow lifelong Methodist, I’m going to miss the strong, female leadership that Susan brings to our church.  But, at the same time- I’m proudly cheering you on as you assume your new senior pastor position.  We love you and will miss you.”

Obviously, I am sad to see her leave for so many personal reasons.  I am going to miss her smile, leadership, sense of humor, and encouragement.  But, at the same time, I am so proud of her to be moving into a senior pastor role.  I know that God has big things in store for her and her new church.  She is a lover of people and relationships and I know that will carry her far in life.  I am just proud to be on her cheerleader squad during life’s journey.

On a positive note, she said I can still text her even though she isn’t my official pastor anymore.  I am glad to still call her my friend.

Best wishes SAG!

love, brooke