I did. And I will.

I remember the first time I walked in. She was wearing red lipstick, khaki shorts and a mickey mouse t-shirt. “Hop in,” she said. And I did.

Somewhat lost and yet somehow at home, I spent 3 hours that first day playing alongside God’s greatest gifts. We laughed, I guessed, we played and made new friends. “How can I help?” I said at the end of the club…. “Lead music next month” she said. And I did.

A year of volunteering eased the frequent Atlanta doctors appointments, struggling nerves and nights of pain. The year turned to warm summer camp months and she asked for me to join the team. And I did.

That summer I fell in love with a world in celebration of people’s abilities. No longer asking the question “how will they navigate the world?” Instead the conviction became that the world needs them to navigate. Camp had a strict attendance commitment. In between bowling, swimming and the smiles she allowed me to slip away for my appointments and return. She understood. We bonded through it. She was slipping away for them too. She told me it would be okay. And for me, it was.

Mid-summer she handed me a paper. Said, “do not read it until you get home”. I wish I could say I did. But I did not. I read it in the car. “You’re a great leader” it read, “A natural.” An opportunity in black and white to lead for the rest of the weeks. She believed in me. She gave me a chance. And I did.

At summer’s end, amidst tears from the broken hearts leaving their favorite place, camp, she sat us down and told us that she was sick. And she was.

October 9th, 2004. Only a few months later, she gave her last breath, her heavy legacy lingering. And then the months that followed. We stepped up. Many more than others. But it was a team. We needed it to carry on, for her, for them, for us. And it did.

The letter I wrote to her 5 days before she left this world

The letter I wrote to her 5 days before she left this world

And then it was the call that December day when I was 19, “will you take the reins” to lead an organization, her memoir. Not knowing how to and also not know how not to. And so I did.

The years have passed as if they were months. Hardly believing it has been 14 years. I still see her in the decisions I make and hear her voice in the ups and downs. Everyday working to carefully carry her treasure. October 9th is a reminder every year that one day it will be me, with her and then there will be another to carry it on. I hope that she is proud. I hope to leave this place as beautiful as it is now. I hope to inspire and invest in others as she did in me. I hope to see it one day much better than I left it. And I will.

  The painted sky last night over the building she built next to the building we built. A perfect pair in fulfilling the mission.

 The painted sky last night over the building she built next to the building we built. A perfect pair in fulfilling the mission.

Only ONE for 2018.

I have a confession...


I am typically a goals person and by nature futuristic, a big dreamer. But I am Terrible (notice the capital T) at New Years Resolutions. Great intention — lack of follow through. Because let’s be honest in this time of life working full time, trying to stay alive and keep everyone else alive raising kids, I can barely remember to take them to the dentist twice a year, let alone remember five resolutions and change five different habits.

So, I had to find something that worked for me and in 2017 I started something NEW: I choose one. Not one resolution, one word. I prayed about it for a few days, talked to a few friends and wrestled with the word that was revealed to me: content.

Little did I know what that would bring. 2017 was a year full of an effort to get pregnant, difficult physical pregnancy and new delegated responsibilities. Even into the last few days of 2017, I had an emergency surgery that put a damper on our 11th wedding anniversary. Nonetheless, when I asked to learn contentment, I was given the opportunities to be refined.  


This year, I took it a step further and began to talk to my kids and my friends about the one word.

It can be scary picking a word because there is so much commitment behind it. (It's even more frightening to share it publicly!) Nonetheless, I believe it’s an extra layer of accountability and anything worth doing requires courage.  

My word for 2018 is Present. As our life and family grows, I want to make an effort to learn how to be less “one step ahead” and more “just in step” —  aware of the needs around me, my family’s needs and aware of my own needs. Most importantly, I want to be more present in His presence.

I sat down with my kids today and we talked through the opportunity to choose their word. I shared with them my word, what it meant and asked for them to help me with it. Finley exclaimed, “Present! Oh, you should totally be the first girl president!” We all laughed and agreed that the goal for president would totally “trump”  the goal of being present.


In true birth order fashion, Owen sat contemplative. Finley quickly and confidently shared her word, “Bold!” Owen needed much more discussion and a lot more suggestion giving before he settled on Joy. They both decided Tate’s word would be Milk. Fitting.

So, the question is, have you avoided New Year’s resolutions? It’s not too late to start the first full week of the year by meditating to find your one. Simply one word for 12 months, 365 days. One word that calls your name, that challenges you, that will lead you to different places and help transform you by this time next year.




3 Things to Do Today to Pick Your One:

• Meditate. Deep down inside, you probably already know your word.

• Ask those around you that know you best. I was teetering between two words, and my husband and two best friends all agreed “present” was the better choice.

•  Say your word out loud. Share your word with others. Let them into this season. Who knows, you may inspire them to find one word, too.


 ** Last year a dear friend bought me a “content” piece of jewelry- Check out  Stamped & Finch or Ann Peden Jewelry to personalize your word to wear for an everyday reminder!

***if you decide to join along & pick a word, please let me know so I can pray for you! 

Fromm The Overflow of the Heart

“(Fromm) the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

There were two great college football teams at odds on Monday night in the Rose Bowl, but there was one glaring difference.

Jake Fromm & ESP participant Lauren Peterson

Jake Fromm & ESP participant Lauren Peterson

ESP’r Landon McDaniel & William Poole

ESP’r Landon McDaniel & William Poole

As the teams remained neck and neck, we watched from our TV in Athens. My nine-year-old son was 110 percent engaged in the game. He is at that innocent age of wonder with football and fascination with everything about the sport. He soaks up every bit of information and watches intently at every play. As the game progressed, you couldn’t help but notice the other teams’ responses to plays -- neck slashes, dirty looks and foul language -- I looked at my son and reminded him, “pride always falls. We may not win, but somehow- pride will make him fall.”  (Proverbs 16:18)

The game was beautiful. I don’t think it could have been scripted, nor played more perfectly. And as we screamed and ran circles around the house after the Georgia victory, we were stopped by Freshman Quarterback Jake Fromm’s first words, “We had to believe. God is good and he stayed with us. Roquan, everybody kept giving their all…. I mean it’s an incredible thing to share with my teammates.”

ESP Participant Kaleb Nunley with Lorenzo Carter & David Bellamy 

ESP Participant Kaleb Nunley with Lorenzo Carter & David Bellamy 

Pride is not something you can hide and humility is not something you can fake… “from the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34). The quarterback of a team is the leader, not only leading the plays but setting the tone and providing motivation in the midst of adversity. And humility is the key to great leadership --- on the field, in the office and in the home.

We have witnessed the genuineness of the Georgia players first1hand as they interact with our individuals at ESP. This season, there have been so many sweet conversations, soft hugs and warm smiles. Jake Fromm and Coach Kirby Smart were some of the last to leave the field after spending time with 150 individuals with disabilities during ESP’s Bulldogs & Buddies event with the team. This quality leadership has come from the top, has been emulated by the team, trickled down and spread. I only hope that with such a great win that humility will continue, both on the team and within the fans into this next week and the biggest game of the season, the National Championship.

Kirby Smart and ESP participant Nick Smith

Kirby Smart and ESP participant Nick Smith

My little 5 year old Finley, Nicole Andrews & UGA’s Roquan Smith

My little 5 year old Finley, Nicole Andrews & UGA’s Roquan Smith

The next morning my son and I sat and recounted the amazingness that happened in double time- it all felt like a dream. He looked up at me, leaned his body close and said, “Mom, it happened. Pride lost and the Humble won.”

Georgia Bulldogs, keep setting an example in a sport where so many are watching by crediting God, supporting one another and remaining humble… keep making “the Main thing the Main thing.


The O-so-inquisitive Owen & Dominick Sanders  

Get rich or Be rich... a business leader's choice.

Last week I had the opportunity to sit in the Chick-fil-A headquarters dining hall with Mr.  David Salyers, VP of marketing at Chick-fil-A. He has co-authored the book, Remarkable which my team will be reading together this fall. I shared with David my story, the story of ESP and about our dreams for the future of Camp Hooray....but, I mostly listened and managed to scribble 10 pages of notes. His wisdom came not just from experience, but from a genuineness of who he is. He talked about being one of the only two people in the marketing department more than 20 years ago and now managing hundreds, the successes of Chick-fil-A and his other business ventures. And as I briskly wrote and hung onto the advice of this expert, I recognized that his conclusions (while on a vastly bigger level) were the same conclusions that I had come to see about businesses I work with in my small corner of the world.

Today I stood before generous business partners in our community who are the foundation of support to our mission every day. I thanked them for not just believing in what we are doing, but for being a part of it. David shared with me the idea that every for-profit company is created to make profit. True, right? But many companies stop there. Every business owner has the choice to strive to get rich or to be rich. In his experience, companies who strive to be rich find a better product and a better culture which leads ultimately to greater financial success.

As a non-profit leader, I have the opportunity to see this on the front lines. I have seen a struggling construction business double their profit in one year after employees connected to the mission and work of ESP; I have seen a fencing company donate $5,000 because they felt called and two days later they received an unexpected bid for $5,000 profit. I have seen a car dealership sell more cars in their history when including our mission in their monthly sales. I have seen a small start-up become a medium-sized local staple after setting up their employees as regular volunteers. The success of these companies was not driven by giving, but the giving itself cultivated growth.


So how can a company be rich?

1. Find a local organization to get behind, one that has a tangible mission and that your employees can connect to.

2. Be available to the leader of that organization. They don't just need your money, they need your time and your advice. You have built a successful business for a reason, help them guide their own business decisions to the success of others.

3. Give time for your employees to give back. It's common knowledge that people will continue to work in places where they enjoy working. It's also common knowledge that we are creatures who make decisions more often with our hearts rather than our heads. To improve the culture of your organization, provide an opportunity for people to give to something greater than themselves. You will thank yourself for it.

4. Sacrifice some of the bottom line in order to raise people from the bottom. Your bold sponsorship of an organization or event may be the funding needed for a child to find a friend, a mom to receive the counseling she needed before she called it quits, the meal the child needed during the summer or the care a family needed in order to provide basic necessities for their family.

5. Embrace the trifecta being a rich company: time, talent and treasure. Give time and allow employees to give time; give wisdom and talent and encourage employees to give their talent, and give treasure -both in-kind and cash gifts to further other's bottom line.  

Who knows, the simple act of raising people from the bottom may in turn raise your profits from the bottom. If you're a business owner - try it, and see for yourself!