As we roll along through life, people enter our story who change us forever.

They inspire us to love more deeply and give more fully of our talents and gifts.


My life story is filled with these kinds of people, and honestly, it would take a book to thank you all in written form.


But I’ve wanted to thank two groups of people publicly for several weeks now, because they went the extra mile for our family in ways that could have brought them financial gain if they had so desired.


First, because this has been long overdue since April, I want to thank Bow Mama.

Bow Mama is a lifelong friend of our family.

Her brother was Nick’s childhood playmate.

I’ve watched her grow from a young, sweet girl into a beautiful mom and wife.

Olivia was actually a flower girl in her wedding years ago.

One of Bow Mama’s greatest talents is making bows!

In our small town, girls of all ages wear cute, funky bows and most of the time these bows have been made by none other than

“Bow Mama.”

You can click on Brooke’s button in the right hand column to visit her Facebook page.


Well, everything Bow Mama is….I am not.

Stylish, hip, creative, and the list goes on of descriptors for this friend.

So, when Olivia was asked to the prom, I knew I would not be able to pull her outfit, flowers, etc., together without help.

This is where Bow Mama stepped in and saved the day.


Olivia’s date is a Duck Dynasty fan, and we knew he was wearing a camo tux,

so we wanted to do whatever we could to accent his style since it was his senior year and we wanted his prom to be all about him.


I found a picture or two on Pinterest and stopped by Hobby Lobby one evening on the way to a track meet.

A very talented employee helped me pull together an ensemble of flowers and things that would make a beautiful bouquet and boutonniere,

and I delivered my bag of supplies to Bow Mama.


The day of prom Olivia and her date both competed in the regional track meet.

This meant no time for hair appointments, eating out before prom, or any extra special events for the day.

Bow Mama literally waited at her house for Olivia to run home and shower and then pulled her together in less than 45 minutes.

We had just enough time to run to Olivia’s date’s house and take about 20 minutes worth of pictures before prom began at 9 p.m.

Thankfully, the high school had pushed prom back an hour because of the conflict with track or Alex and Olivia would have had to show up in their track uniforms!


Bow Mama saved the day!

And I have wanted to publicly share her talent and passion for what she does,

because she deserves some applause!

If you’re looking for a perfect bow or accessory,

consider Bow Mama! Smile

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The next thank you goes to a local business in our town.

And really the thank you goes back over our entire lifetime in Grayson.


When I left home for college, dad told me to find a gas station I loved and an auto repair shop I loved and keep going back.

He said the relationships I built in those kinds of places were powerful and helpful all through life.

I think the same thing goes when choosing a place to have your prescriptions filled.

Horton Bros. has been our pharmacy for over 20 years.

I remember calling Willie, our pharmacist, one Monday morning to confess a horrible mistake I had made all weekend long.

After putting drops in Tim’s eye for three days straight only to see it get worse and worse, I realized I had been using ear drops!!!

Willie was the first person I felt safe calling.  I knew he would calm me down and tell what I needed to do.

He laughed and highly recommended Tim go see our eye doctor that day.

I remember asking Willie if he thought our eye doctor had an “ear drop detector machine,” because there was no way I was telling Tim what I had done.

Willie laughed again and assured me that they probably did not have that kind of machine.

So later in the day when I called Tim at work and told him I had made him an appointment with our eye doctor, he thought I was such a thoughtful wife.

He didn’t realize I was terrified that he might be going blind from my error!!

I didn’t confess my mistake to Tim until many months later  on New Year’s Eve in the company of several friends.

I figured by then any ear drop residue was long gone.


Well, years passed and Nick became sick.

The prescriptions we filled through the years were endless.

Sometimes ten different medicines at a time.

Sometimes, we would learn that Willie had somehow covered the charges of our enormous bills.

One night as we returned from an emergency transfusion in Columbus, Ohio,

Nick had been prescribed a medicine to help with his nausea.

When we got home at well after 11 p.m.,

Willie was waiting in our driveway with the prescription!

And many times, Horton Bros. has helped sponsor events for Nick’s Foundation.


Well, several weeks ago, Nick should have walked across the stage at graduation and received his diploma.

We attended graduation, because we love his class so very much.

We also knew that there would be a chair in Nick’s memory.

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Tim and our minister looking at Nick’s chair before the ceremony began.

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Bow Mama’s brother and Nick’s childhood buddy, Brandon, holding the photo collage he created for Nick’s chair.

Right before graduation began, the guidance counselors came to me and told me that there would be a balloon launch at the end of the graduation ceremony in memory of Nick.

As graduation progressed, I thought about Nick’s love for the song 99 Red Balloons and the balloon launch we had at his funeral.

This is our funeral memory with that song.

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99 Red Balloons being launched at the end of Nick’s funeral

As the graduation ceremony came to an end, one of Nick’s other childhood friends, Derek, took the stage and announced the meeting place for the balloon launch and shared very sweet words about how Nick had changed his life and was with him every single day in a very special way.

As we had the closing prayer, I asked God to help me be okay if only a few seniors came outside for this moment.

I knew everyone had families attending and things to do that day.

I knew that many of the seniors didn’t know Nick as well as they could have because he has not been a part of their life for so many years.

When I walked out the back door of the school and saw this,

my heart was filled with more emotion than I can even piece together into a sentence.

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Everyone had come out back.

And they were holding 99 red balloons!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Hearing them scream as the balloons were released is something I’ll never forget.

The love we felt on on that day will never be forgotten.

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It wasn’t until about a week later that I learned that Horton Bros. Pharmacy had donated every single balloon!!!!

I wish I could say thank you in a more profound way.


What I’d love to ask is this,

If you live near Grayson, KY, and you need a little something in the next few months- a card, medicine, a gift for someone –

consider doing business at Horton Bros.


They blessed our community on graduation day.
Let’s bless them right back.


Today, I think the question I am asking myself is this,

What can I do to make someone else’s day a little brighter?

Thank you, Bow Mama and Horton Bros., for being bright lights in our community and in my family’s life!




I figured out my summer-writing problem this morning.

It’s not earth shattering, but it’s the truth.

During the school year, I get up an hour and half before I go to work so that I can have my quiet time.  I love to have time to read and pray and just listen to what God is saying through what I’ve read.

In the summer, I sleep in a little later and have a much shorter quiet time.


Because I look at the clock and think, “It’s already 8 or 9!  I have so much I want to do today!”

Am I proud of this reality?  No.

Am I being the person I want to be?  No.

Not that I need to blog in order to be close to God, but I do need more time with Him.

In the summer, I try to keep up with my daily Bible reading, but I have prayer-on-the-go.

I realized this morning that I cannot spend my summer like this.


Right this minute I have a friend waiting on her deck to have coffee with me.

She’s waiting patiently, and she knows I’m coming soon.

But what if I never showed up?

What if I just left her waiting?  And what if I started doing this every time we planned a morning visit?

Would our relationship grow or would we begin to drift apart?

I know the answer.


And that’s why this morning I am saying out loud, “God is worth getting up early every single morning of my life.”

He is my everything.

He is my strength, my best friend, my world.

He deserves more than I have given Him in the past few weeks, and even though I have talked with Him in snippets and carried Him with me everywhere I go, I haven’t sat with Him long enough for Him to say a word to me.



It’s been all about me, and I can’t live like that again.

He’s done too much for me.  He’s walked too faithfully with me.

So, today is the day when I commit to digging in deeper and listening more closely.

He longs to speak to me, and He longs to speak to you.

I’m challenging you this morning to sit down everyday and spend some time with Him who loves you most.

You’ll never regret it.


He is waiting patiently for you and for me.


Now that makes me smile. Smile

The past ten days have literally been a blur.

I’ve tried to keep up on Facebook by adding photo albums of special occasions.


In the past week and a half our family has experienced…..


the graduation of the class of 2013 (Nick’s graduating class),

a very special wedding,

a visit with Evan who was in for the wedding,

two trips to Louisville,

a visit from Mamaw,

helping Todd pack for his summer in Japan followed by a goodbye dinner with him at Team Expansion’s retreat center,

several graduation parties,

Nick’s 18th birthday,

a Relay for Life 5K,

our town’s Memorial Day parade,

and the all-day event of cleaning out our shed.


My mind has been spinning at 120 MPH, and honestly, I was hesitant to open my blog this evening to even try to write.


But, I remember last summer’s inability to pen words, and the thought of another summer like that almost makes me go into panic mode.


I am determined to keep writing no matter how busy or mundane the summer days become.


When I step away from reflecting on life, I step away from part of who I am.


That separation is never pretty, because I am a writer.


And when writers stop writing (or never start), they lock up words, they hold back feelings, and they imprison emotions.

I can’t live fully without writing freely.


So I’m stepping back tonight long enough to remind myself that clicking away at the keyboard is my therapy as I face extreme highs and extreme lows in life.


It’s my way of breathing in what God says to me through His Word and through life events and then breathing them back out again.

The past few days I have been very aware of the lack of oxygen in my life.


I need to write to feel complete. 


If we’re not friends on Facebook, feel free to send me a friend request (Tammy Nischan).

I will add you so you can see the many different chapters of our past few weeks.


If We’re Facebook Friends, You Already Know…….

our family has been going non-stop since May 16th.

No matter how crazy life gets,

I hope you know you are always in my thoughts and prayers.

I carry you with me wherever I go.


Determined to never go this long without writing again,



I love to think of life as a story.

A story being written as we move and breathe.


The Bible says God is the “author” of our faith,

and I have to believe that He pens our day much like a modern-day author pens a novel.

I’ve read a lot of books on writing and what I’ve learned is that many times writers allow their characters to make decisions they had not “planned” as the storyline moves along.

While the author holds the writing utensil, he often allows the characters in his story to help reveal the plot.


I think God is that kind of author.

He knows how the story ends, but He gives freedom to each of us as we move through our own personal journeys.

I love seeing God as this kind of writer and Creator.


I also love knowing that as each chapter of life ends,

He’s already thinking about the next chapter, and His plans are always good……


even when we’ve made decisions that weren’t so good along the way.


And even when life has been painful,

He can write beautiful things back into our story.


Great stories have tough chapters.


Great stories have dramatic plot lines.


God is the author of great stories.


And He is with us as each chapter ends.


This week is a big week for many kids I love.


They are going to end their high school chapter and venture into the next chapter.


I’m excited to see what God has planned for each them as He continues to pen their personal stories.


Maybe you are nearing the end of a specific chapter in your life.


If so, know that God is already working on the next chapter.


And know that He has already written a beautiful ending to all of our stories.


Sometimes it’s easier to end one chapter and start a new one when I know a book will ultimately have a happy ending.

I’m so thankful God allowed us to see the happy ending He has for each of us as we walk (and sometimes stumble) through the part of our story that takes place on Earth.



I’m reading  a book right now entitled,

Sacred Rhythm-A Journey to Spiritual Transformation.

In the chapter I read this morning, the author shared research from brain specialist, Joseph Chilton.

In his research of the brain, he discovered that just as many adults experience a mid-life journey to find deeper meaning in life, teenagers also have a brain spurt related to how they see reality.


During this time in their development, this is what they need:


Adults who model a meaningful life.

When teens don’t experience adults who help them find a deeper purpose and meaning for living,

they can become “profoundly frustrated.”

Researcher Joseph Chilton believes this is why we are seeing an increase in teen violence.


Teens  need to see meaning

in the adult world.


“When teens moves into adulthood without having discovered a deeper sense of meaning and purpose of existence, their disillusionment can settle into a profound (and sometimes very subtle) cynicism and emotional detachment that is opposite of the hope, passion, and energy that are basic to the Christian faith.”


This morning, I’m thinking of all the amazing men and women I know who model life with a deep sense of purpose and meaning,


I am overwhelmed with thankfulness.

As you walk through your day today,

look for opportunities to impact the next generation in a way that helps them discover a deeper reason for living than simply “to exist.”


This world needs purpose-filled people.

This world needs passion-filled people.

This world needs hope-filled people.


Our teenagers need us to be those kind of people in their lives today.


As the mom of two teenagers, I am so incredibly thankful for all of you who are already those very kind of people to my kids!


Praying for all of you today and truly feeling that in so many ways “my cup overflows.”


Looking For Direction?

May 13th, 2013


Your word is a lamp to my feet and a

light to my path.

Psalm 119:105

No matter how uncertain the future seems.

No matter how unclear.

God longs to lead the way down a path of purpose.

Hoping you’ll turn to His Words today.

They make all the difference.


God-Sized Assignments

May 10th, 2013


I’ve been reading this morning about the importance of “walking by faith, not by sight,”

about “God-sized assignments,”

about “hearing God’s call and responding.”


I’ve sat here wondering what in the world I’m doing in my life right now that requires any more than human strength.


I work, and yes it’s stressful at times, but lots of people have stressful jobs.

I’m a mom, and yes, I fail often; but lots of women are struggling moms who keep trying over and over again.

I’m a wife who messes up daily but keeps  pressing on, but I know lots of other wives just like me.

I lead a Sunday school class.

I go to jail for Bible study when it’s my turn on the rotation list.

I pray with friends who are hurting……..


but what am I doing that is God-sized?


What am I involved with that could not be happening without God’s strength and power?


I am energized by God-sized assignments.


I find my deepest joy when I am in the midst of something only God can do.


Today, I’m praying for a God-sized assignment.

That’s a scary but exciting prayer.


I don’t want to step out ahead of Him,

but I do want to step out.


Maybe He’s calling you to step out too.

Maybe you already know what He’s asking of you and you’ve been holding back thinking “there’s no way this or that could happen.”

Trust Him today if He’s calling you to do something you can only do with His help.


The world needs to see Christians living out God-sized assignments in order for them to see God working in this world.


I’m not sure what my next assignment will be, but I want to be ready.

I want you to be ready too.

Can you imagine a world filled with people living out God-sized assignments?



“Jesus looked at them and said,

‘With man this is impossible,

but not with God;

all things are possible with God.'”

Mark 10:27

I haven’t met many people who feel like their prayer life is exactly where they’d like it to be.
We tend to feel like we don’t pray enough or we wonder if God is even hearing us when we do pray.
For some reason, our ability to communicate with God seems so much more complicated than our ability to communicate with our friends.
Maybe part of it is the fact that in our humanness we only see one side of the conversation.
 I’m sure the devil does everything he can to whisper doubt when it comes to this critical part of our experience with God.
This morning as I was reading, though, Hebrews 11:6 jumped out at me as a possible reason for our feelings of inadequacy when it comes to prayer.
And without faith it is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
What if we took a minute to ask two hard questions this morning:
1.  Do we truly believe God exists?
2.  Do we honestly believe He rewards those who earnestly seek Him?
In some ways, these questions seem simple.

Of course, we believe in God.  Of course, we believe He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
But, when it comes to real-world experiences…
How often do we doubt?
How often do we complain?
How often do we question?
How often do we wish for something different?
If we reached a place of complete, undeniable trust in a God who is real and who longs to pour blessings all over us even in the middle of tough times,
what would change about today???
I’m thinking everything would change.
To drive to work feeling overwhelmed with His presence.
To walk into work totally aware of His hand holding ours.
To face stress knowing that the One who created this entire universe says, “Cast ALL your cares upon me….”
To believe with every inch of our being that Jesus says, “I have come to give you life…abundant life.”
I think there would be a lot less negativity in this world if we grasped just how much God longs to be right in the middle of every good and bad experience.
I think there would be a lot more risks taken for the Kingdom.
I want to walk in faith.
This means believing in a God who longs to reward me for earnestly seeking Him.
I want you to walk in faith too.
The devil would love for us to believe that life will only be “so good” here on earth because of all of the evil surrounding us.
But God speaks different words.
This morning, ask yourself these two questions:
1. Do I truly believe God exists?
2. Do I honestly believe He rewards those who earnestly seek Him?
If you can answer yes, then go to God with every question, every concern, every need………
and then trust Him to respond in His time.
If you are struggling to answer “yes” to the questions above,
please know I am praying for you and so are many other people.
Know that God is pursuing you even in your time of questioning.
Don’t be afraid to ask Him to show Himself to you even in your time of doubting……
Luke 11:9-10 –
And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for.
Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives.
Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks.


This morning I’ve been reading news stories about the missing girls in Cleveland who were miraculously discovered this week.

One of the girls broke free and began screaming at the front door of the house in which they were being held captive as a man walked by.

He came to her rescue and now their lives have been changed forever.


As the mom of a teenager a daughter, news stories like this terrify me.

To think someone could hold girls in captivity for 10 years is simply more than my mind can absorb.


But as I read some of the comments from neighborhood citizens,

I found myself becoming a little angry at mankind in general.


How can we live so “blind” to the things around us?


One story said that a small girl could often be seen standing and staring out the attic window.

Another said screaming could be heard from within the house at times and that the windows were all covered in some sort of plastic.

Another said that several years ago a woman was seen crawling naked on her hands and knees in the back yard.


The police were called on a couple of occasions.

They responded to the calls,

knocked on the door, and then left when no one answered.


I guess that was enough for the people who had made the call.


Ever since I heard about this story in Cleveland, I have been thinking of all the other families around the world who are still holding pictures of their missing children.

I watched one interview of a Houston couple whose daughter has been missing for three years.

Crying, they held up her photograph, begging anyone to come forward who had any information about their daughter.

The $20,000 reward doesn’t hold a candle to the worth of holding their daughter in their arms again.


Over 7,000 missing persons’ reports are filed every year in Houston alone!

Many are found.

Many are not.


So, how should the Cleveland story change us???


It should cause us all to open our eyes.


It should make us all more aware of our surroundings.


It should compel us all to report unusual activity to the police.


Pray for every parent who falls asleep tonight not knowing where their child is sleeping……or if they are even alive.


I remember when Adrienne died –

The devastation of knowing she was gone from our home forever.

The thought of her not being in her crib ever again.


But I also remember saying to my mom one night not longer after her funeral,

“At least I know where she is.”


Twenty-one years ago I was keenly aware that there are parents who wake up every morning not knowing where their children are waking up.

That broke my heart then and it breaks my heart now.


Today as the story in Cleveland continues to unfold,

let’s remember all the families who are watching and hoping for the same kind of miracle for their child.


God will certainly avenge all the wrong of this world in His time.

He will redeem all the lost years.


Until then, we have got to do our part as citizens and Christians in an extremely broken world.


Praying more specifically today for families with missing children.

Asking God for more miracles like the one in Cleveland.



I love to imagine my life from God’s perspective.

I love to see wherever I’m at in any given situation as a dot on a map that gets smaller and smaller as it is viewed from a place further and further up in the sky.


When I am able to keep this kind of perspective on my shortcomings and my schedule,

everything seems less “dramatic.”


My inability to cook very well.

My inability to sew.

My tendency to wear my feelings on my sleeve.

My emotional highs and lows.

My insecurities.

My grief.

My complicated personality.

My list of things I need to do.

My responsibilities at home and work.

My moments of not being the friend I want to be to those I love…….or the wife or mom or daughter or sister or sister-in-law or  aunt or cousin or on and on and on….



When I see “me” from God’s perspective,

I realize that anything I do well is truly about as insignificant as anything I don’t do well.

Not because God doesn’t care from His high position,

but because He keeps all my strengths and weaknesses in a healthy perspective compared to all other things going on in this world.


When I view my tiny life as a dot on a gigantic map of people and places covering an entire globe,

I am humbled and comforted at the same time.


Which is why I think this morning is an important morning to see “the test” from God’s perspective.


Our county is entering testing week this morning.

Many schools in America may have already had this critical week of school and many others may be heading into it in the next couple of weeks,

but for Carter County this week is the week.


Teachers have worked hard all year to teach the content.

They’ve invested time, money, and energy helping their students learn as much as they can learn.

They’ve creatively encouraged the kids to do their very best in pre-testing spirit weeks.

Click HERE to see some of the things our teachers have done to inspire their students.


Now the time has come.

Teachers will hand out test booklets and pencils.

Students will take their tests.

Results will be calculated.

Data will be analyzed.


The stress level is high in a test-driven society.


But, I just feel compelled this morning to remind everyone to view this week from God’s perspective.

We are tiny dots on a world map,

and this test is even tinier than us.


So, take a deep breath.

Hand out your tests and breathe.

It’s going to be okay.


And students, do your best and let God do the rest.


God’s got the whole world in His hands,

so He’s got this test in His hands too. Smile



And He’s got all our other worries and stresses too.



Matt. 10:29-30

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?

Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Today, remember this:

His eye is on the sparrow.

His eye is on you too.

Rest in that truth.

You are loved.