Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Sowden’s Desoto County Favs

2018 Sowden’s Desoto County Favs

Troy and I compiled a list of some of our favorite restaurants in Desoto County, MS. Let us know your favorites and if we need to visit a new place!


Avellino’s, Southaven

I mean, this is a no brainer. This is our FAVORITE of all time. We love getting pepperoni pizza with traditional hot wings with ranch & blue cheese. We love, love, love this place. 

Melody also loves the Memphis pizza from Buon Cibo in Hernando (Troy recommends the Nesbit) and both of us love the Newk's Q pizza from Newk’s in Southaven. 

Troy - Mis Pueblos, Olive Branch
Melody - Rancho Grande, Olive Branch
I recommend the rancho grande enchilada and cheese quesadillas.

Melody - I recommend the red curry with chicken. 
Troy - He recommends the drunken noodle with beef. 
We both love the Olive Branch sushi roll and the kaboom shrimp appetizer. Ask for Madeline as your server; she’s the absolute best.

Memphis BBQ, Southaven
We both recommend the Pitmaster Sampler with ANY of the meats. Their seasoning is delicious on everything. Our most frequent choice is ribs, turkey and chicken but we change it up. When we get an appetizer we usually do the sausage and cheese plate. 

Sear Shack, Olive Branch
We both recommend the angus cheeseburger and their Nutella milkshake is absolutely amazing. Their fries are incredible too. Their burger buns are made fresh and the pickles on their condiment bar are perfect. Get the Sear Sauce on your burger and some for your fries.

Melody - I love the Newk's Q sandwich from Newk's and you cannot go wrong with anything from Lenny's.
Troy - The Newk's Q sandwich will change your life. The pizza is good but the sandwich is amazing. The Italian sandwich is very good too but nothing touches the Newk's Q.

We recommend any of the iced lattes. 

Our Non Restaurant Favs

Dan Feret at Burleson’s Auto and Diesel Repair, Hernando

Brooke at Studio 139, Hernando 

Bailey Berry from Bai's Photography is so amazing and we highly recommend her! 

There are TONS of amazing churches in our county.  We absolutely LOVE CityChurch of Olive Branch. I'll save you a seat if you let me know you're coming!

I know we missed a bunch of categories that we hope to add next year. What are some of your favs? 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Thoughts on my Recent Miscarriage - Part 2

Part 2 of 2 (read part one here)

Let me set the record straight. As a believer, I do not believe for one second that God took this baby away from me. I don’t believe he/she was “too beautiful to be on earth” or that “God wanted another flower for his garden” or an “another angel in Heaven.” No. God’s word says His plans for us are to “prosper you and not to harm you…” (Jeremiah 29:11) and John 10:10 says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Eric Matthews from Boy Meets World said very (in) famously, “Life’s tough, get a helmet.” So true. I just wasn’t ready for this. 

I never watched an episode of Dawson’s Creek but somehow, I follow James Van Der Beek on Instagram. He and his wife have five kids. 

The day I woke up after I miscarried, he timely wrote this: 

“Wanted to say a thing or two about miscarriages... of which we’ve had three over the years (including right before this little beauty). First off - we need a new word for it. “Mis-carriage”, in an insidious way, suggests fault for the mother - as if she dropped something, or failed to “carry.” From what I’ve learned, in all but the most obvious, extreme cases, it has nothing to do with anything the mother did or didn’t do. So let’s wipe all blame off the table before we even start.
Second... it will tear you open like nothing else. It’s painful and it’s heartbreaking on levels deeper than you may have ever experienced. So don’t judge your grief, or try to rationalize your way around it. Let it flow in the waves in which it comes, and allow it it’s rightful space. And then... once you’re able... try to recognize the beauty in how you put yourself back together differently than you were before. Some changes we make proactively, some we make because the universe has smashed us, but either way, those changes can be gifts. Many couples become closer than ever before. Many parents realize a deeper desire for a child than ever before. And many, many, many couples go on to have happy, healthy, beautiful babies afterwards (and often very quickly afterwards - you’ve been warned 😍). I’ve heard some amazing metaphysical explanations for them, mostly centering around the idea that these little souls volunteer for this short journey for the benefit of the parents... but please share whatever may have given you peace or hope along the way... Along with a new word for this experience.”

I have never felt like this was my fault but yes, we need a different word that doesn’t indirectly blame the mother. I really cannot bring myself to say the word, “miscarriage.” It hurts too much. I avoid it at all costs. 

It happened so fast. It was a whirlwind. It’s a grief like no other. A tiny baby died inside of my body. Every time I bled, I wondered if my baby was exiting my body. I bled for nine straight days. And I’m not sure which day when my baby left my body to meet Jesus. 

I’m heartbroken. There’s a constant lump in my throat. I am on the verge of crying. There is a pit in the bottom of my stomach. 

Today, October 15th, is pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day. I had no idea this day even existed until it popped up in my Pinterest feeds. 


I pitched my idea of naming our baby to Troy one night. I don’t think he had thought about it. I had heard about people doing this before and I knew if we did it, it would make this whole situation feel more “real.” So I didn’t want to do it but I knew this would help my grieving process. 

We threw around several unisex names. Of course, we can never agree on anything but we both really loved the name Micah. It fits with our name theme of our kids names ending with an “ah” sound. Micah means “who is like our God?” Taylor means “to cut” which seems very literal but we love the name. 

I am still grieving. I am still raw. I wish that after a month, the pain would have lessened. It hasn’t.

The tears are still flowing. The lump in my throat is constant. Random things still trigger my heart wrenching sadness. I feel empty. Empty physically literally. Empty emotionally. 

I’m learning to push through the pain and move forward. For myself, my kids, husband. I’m back at work. Back to serving behind the scenes at my church. Back to making dinner. 

Although my grief and pain is still very much present, I know my baby couldn’t be happier. He/she knew no pain. Just love. Love from our creator. I’m grateful for our Lord.

I pray to God that this is the only time in my life that this happens to me. 

One of my friends who doesn’t have kids, texted me and said that she thought it was cool that I shared my experience online [a few days on FB & IG after we found out]. She said she had friends who had similar situations and felt so alone. I never, for one second, felt alone. I never felt that I was the only one who had this happened. I know women have gone before me and women will come after me. I know friends and family who have had this happened to them too. 

I can’t fathom not sharing. Not for my glory but for my release.

I thought about it and it feels like a vicious cycle for those. Many women don’t share their pregnancies in fear that something like this could happen. Most of the time, everything is fine. And 1 out of 4 times, a miscarriage or stillbirth happens. Then those women that didn’t share their pregnancies are now hiding their miscarriage. Now, they are alone, sharing their pain with themselves and concealing their sorrows. How lonely. I’m not saying you need to reveal your pregnancy as soon as the digital test reads “pregnant.” That’s your business. If you do miscarry, don’t hold it in. You don’t need to blog or tell the world about it either but let some confidants know. Let those that have paved the way (and grieved properly) to help you process it. To pray with you. Pray for you. I am still having a hard time praying for myself, let alone anyone else but one day, I will pray and grieve with you. 

Bear with me as I struggle trying to find a new normal. Losing a baby has cut me deep. It may look like a bandaid on a cut but it’s much deeper than that.

I am so grateful for the Lord and for the gift of eternal life and I am so excited to see our little one some day. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Thoughts on my Recent Miscarriage - Part 1

Part 1 of 2

I wasn’t prepared for this. 

Yes, this could happen to me. But, I never thought this would happen to me.

Be warned - these blog posts will feature inserts from random 90 sitcom stars and kinda graphic info on pregnancy and miscarriages. It will be lengthy but well, that’s the only way I know how to write. One of my best friends recently wrote about miscarriage (of which she has had 3) and she wrote “The more people who speak about miscarriage and loss- the more people who understand it.” So that’s the purpose of my writing: a release for me and for more people to understand it. Because truthfully, before September 6th, I didn’t fully get it. 

A month in and I’m still raw. broken. hurting. wounded. 

I’m just going to be honest. I never thought I would miscarry my third child. Troy and I first got pregnant in January of 2014. That was the first month we ever tried and we were fortunate to get pregnant immediately. We were blessed with the world’s easiest baby, Judah, so we wanted another one right away. Eight months later, we got pregnant again with our daughter, Alexa. Troy could just look my way and we would get pregnant when we wanted. (Is that how babies are born? I’m not sure yet.)

Alexa was a difficult baby. She was tough; everything was hard with her. Breastfeeding was crazy hard (hello, mastitis!). Her colic seemed like it would never end. She was night and day from Judah. Now, she’s 2 1/2 years old and the most easy going, sweetest child ever (especially if she has chocolate in hand). 

I had a really hard time recovering from Alexa’s birth. Postpartum anxiety hit me hard and I got diagnosed with hypothyroidism (pregnancy can trigger it). That’s another story in itself but we didn’t start trying again for two years. Before that, we could snap our fingers and I would be pregnant but for some reason this time, it took awhile. I have no idea why it didn’t happen as quickly as before. 

But finally after six months of trying (I know many couples try for a lot longer), we got pregnant! I could not even believe it. I found out before church on a Sunday morning. Troy is up at like 3am on Sundays so I never see him before service starts at 10am. I was elated. We had a meeting at 9:15am, service at 10am and another lunch meeting at 12pm. It wasn’t until 2pm when I told him. He was overjoyed and couldn’t believe it. 

Of course, I took 3 more tests for a total of 4 by 3 different brands and they all turned up positive. We were SO excited and honestly, just relieved. My parents live 1000 miles away in PA and were coming in less than two weeks to celebrate Judah’s fourth birthday with us. I have never told them in person when I got pregnant so I cannot even tell you how pumped we were to tell them in person. We ordered “big bro” and “big sis” shirts right after I dusted off my box of old maternity clothes.

I made an appointment at a new OBGYN that’s closer to our house since we moved a year ago. I had an appointment for an ultrasound at the end of the month. It didn’t feel real. 

On Thursday, September 6th, I took my kids to preschool then went to work as usual. I picked the kids up and drove home. Everything felt fine. Everything was fine. I went to the bathroom and found it. Blood. More blood. I started shaking and breathing heavy, on the verge of a panic attack. I pleaded with God, “No, God! Please, no!” I put on a pad in case of more blood. I called Troy immediately. I cried, “I started bleeding. It could be nothing. But, I’m bleeding.” and he immediately ran home. As soon as I told him, I kid you not, the flood gates opened outside and it started pouring buckets (hurricane leftovers). He was soaked when he got home. 

We tried to convince ourselves that this wasn’t happening and there could be a million reasons for this. He stayed home from work the rest of the day and I sat quietly on our couch, too fearful to move, just in case. Like somehow sitting still would save my baby. 

But I was in pain with cramps that felt like contractions and blood kept coming. I didn’t want to take any medicine to ease the cramp pain in case everything was ok.

I waited until the morning to call the OBGYN. I told the receptionist that I was terrified I was miscarrying. I held it together as I choked out the word “miscarriage.” She immediately transferred me to a nurse’s line. No one answered and I was forced to leave a “detailed message.” I lost it on the voicemail. I tried to pull it together but my voice cracked and my personal flood gates opened. I felt so bad for the person who was going to hear this message.

What felt like days were only hours when the nurse called back. The nurse said that it was mostly likely that I miscarried. She said I had a few options. I could wait a week and take a pregnancy test and if it was negative and I was done bleeding then that would confirm my miscarriage. Or I could come in right away to do some blood work then go in a few days later and give some more blood. They would compare the levels and see if my hormone levels went down to confirm the miscarriage. I took a shower and went to their office immediately. 

Seeing so many pregnant ladies in the waiting room made my heart break. That.Was.Supposed.To.Be.Me. 

I was constantly bleeding. I was screaming internally. My heart was breaking.

After several days, the blood work confirmed my biggest fear - a miscarriage. 

Although, we had only known we were pregnant for less than a week, we had planned out our lives with this little baby. We were so pumped to have Alexa become a big sister and for Judah to continue on his big brother role. 

I thought miscarrying would be a once and done event. Like, I thought you bled for an hour and then it was over. I didn’t think I would continually bleed and cramp for nine days. 

How am I supposed to move on? How do I carry on with life? To the outside, no-one knows what happened. I feel like I’m a walking wound. Sadness is overwhelming. Grief is my closest friend. Brokenness shoots in waves over my body. There’s a pit in my stomach. A lump in my throat. 

My biggest fear has come true. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

How to Make the Most out of Church on Sunday

Sounds simple, right? You might be thinking you’re already doing all these things.

Here are some super practical tips to to get the most out of your weekend worship experience at your church that you may not have thought of before. 

  1. I have to start with this one first: commit to going. Do not let your kids decide. Do not let your emotions decide. Do not wait until Sunday morning to see how you feel (your emotions will always tell you that sleep is better). Do not plan on going UNLESS something else comes along. Commit. Do not make excuses. Ask off work. Do not make plans during that time. Make it a priority. Finish your school work, studying, house cleaning, and work at another time. Have a standing appointment on Sunday mornings (or Sunday nights or Saturday nights - whenever your church meets). I have seen an individual miss one Sunday then miss another. Then they miss months and months turn into years. And just because your spouse has a cold doesn’t mean you should just stay home too. You are missing an incredible opportunity to learn and grow. Take your kids who aren’t sick along. 
  2. If you attend church on a Sunday morning, get to bed early Saturday night. Troy and I are super careful about what plans we make on Saturday nights. If we plan events, meetings, or dinners, we try to make them for Friday nights or early Saturday evenings. Now, Troy has to get up earlier than most people on Sunday mornings (between 3 & 4am) but regardless, we still make it a point to get to bed early. 
  3. Get to church early. If church starts at 11am, you cannot have your alarm set for 10:45am, hit snooze once or twice then speed to church and expect to get the most out of your worship experience. You will be stressed out for trying to make the yellow light, yell at your kids while shoving a granola bar down your mouth (What?! I’ve definitely never done that.). So many churches have fellowship areas that provide coffee, water and maybe even snacks and breakfast items. When you get there early, you can take advantage of that time.
  4. If you have kids, check them into your kids ministry. This is so important for a million reasons. This is not just childcare, this is a ministry to them! They are learning at their level. What a gift! It’s so important for them to learn about the Lord and the Bible. In their classrooms, they learn and grow with other kids. This is not just a way for them to grow but for you to grow as their parent. You are letting other women and men of God speak into your kids lives, teaching them, praying for them, encouraging them and reinforcing what you are teaching them at home. There have been maybe three times (maybe) where I have brought my kids into a service and it is beyond stressful to say the very least. I could not pay attention because I was too worried about my child making noise or distracting others. What a blessing and a gift a kids ministry is to a church!
  5. Come prepared. Bring your Bible - not just the one on your phone. Bring the one that you use on a daily basis (or weekly or yearly) where you write notes in the margin. And bring a notebook. Take lots of notes. Write down names of worship songs you sang so you can download them later in the week. Write down upcoming events and news from the church announcements. Write down points and verses from the message. Make notes to re-read verses later that week. Write down what you feel like God is telling you through the message and worship. 
  6. Leave your phone at home. Or turn it off or leave it in your car. I know, I know, you want to “take notes” on your phone and “look up verses” on Bible app. I can’t tell you how many times I see people texting, Facebooking, Instagraming during church services. What’s worse is when they show their neighbor what they are looking at on Instagram. It can wait. What’s worse than that is when a mom or dad is showing their son or daughter something from social media. My heart literally hurts when I see that. If you are not engaged in the message or worship, that’s completely fine; but, please, don’t distract your neighbor from what God is trying to show them. That is showing them that it’s not important to you. 
  7. Greet others. Did you know that you may be the first impression someone gets when they walk into church? Every Sunday there are people who have never been to a church or have haven’t been in years and are filled with anxieties. Look for new people and show them around. Ask them to sit with you. 
  8. Do not leave immediately after the service. And definitely don’t leave before service is over. At the end of the service, many churches have a time for fresh starts - where people choose to give their lives to Christ for the first time or maybe they are making a decision to recommit an area of their life to the Lord. If you are leaving to get on the wait list at IHOP, please do not leave in the middle of prayer or during a song at the end. Your impatience could be interrupting someone’s very important, life changing situation. Plus, if you leave immediately you can’t talk to to your friends or new people. 
  9. Do the homework from the pastor. Did your pastor tell you to read a book or chapter of the Bible? Did he ask you to pray for someone or a situation? Do it! You will be so much better prepared going into your Sunday worship experiences.

A few more notes. Get involved and serve! If you need to be a member first, ask how to become a member and serve. Tithe regularly. Give above your tithe. Pray for the leadership in your church. Pray for the church’s safety. If you’re out of town, don’t forget to tithe that week to your church. Sit up front!

I could go on and on and I am sure you have some awesome suggestions too. These tips are not completely black and white. I get that you may be on call with your job and need to have your phone out or your toddler needs to sit with you once because you have to leave early because you have family flying into town. And some churches have apps where you follow along the service with your phone. I get it, I have broken all these tips before. Most of these are suggestions but I know you can’t follow them all the time. 

I’ve spoken to so many people around the country who say they are leaving their church because they “aren’t getting anything out of it.” I think that can be true in rare cases but how much are you putting into it? 

I know, I may be stepping on some toes, especially introvert toes who hate when I mention talking to other people. I know, I get it. I am an introvert. Going to church stretches me to my absolute introvert limits. Most of the time, I leave completely mentally exhausted. 

But can I say that it is 100% worth it. It will always be worth it. Jesus is worth it. The kingdom is worth it. Your family is worth it. You are worth it. 

Ephesians 5:25 (NLV) 
“Husbands, love your wives. You must love them as Christ loved the church. He gave His life for it.”

Wow! Jesus gave his life for the church. The Word says that husbands need to love their wives like Christ gave himself up for the church. What an incredible command.

I am super passionate about the local church, not because I am a pastor’s wife but because I am a Christian. I am SUPER blessed that my parents valued church and always made it a priority. When my parents were engaged, they found a church to go to together. That was in 1984. It's 2018 now and they continue to serve, give and worship at that same church faithfully. My parents scheduled work and vacations so that we wouldn’t miss it. 

One thing that absolutely kills me on the inside are church hoppers with kids. They leave a church every few years for whatever reason. Their kids get connected then their parents leave abruptly and now the kids have to start over again. Now, there are absolutely many reasons to leave a church so I am not saying you should never leave. I’m just saying it’s so important to find a church, get connected and plant roots.

I was born at 5:55am on a Sunday morning. My dad went to church a few hours later. True story. Now, I am not saying that’s the right thing to do but it illustrates the point how dedicated my parents are. 

Pastor Bill Hybels says, “the local church is the hope of the world.” And I tend to agree.