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Saying Yes Won't Spoil the Kid


Saying Yes Won't Spoil the Kid

The combination of a rainy summer day, schedules leading to having just one kid at home instead of three, and the awareness that life should daily be given our best to the ones we love following the sudden death of a local Mom’s son had me saying, “Yes!” to my middle girl today.

I hesitated to share, because not everyone has the liberty to make their child feel special due to financial and/or time constraints. But then when I really thought of the parents that have influenced me to treat my kid extra special one at a time, I noticed something they had in common. They all have excuses. Too many kids, working a full time job, needing to tend to a child with special needs most of the time, literally no money to spare or some other issue that could come up. Instead of excuses, they made a way!

I didn’t want you to feel guilty, but now I kinda do want you to share in that emotion with me. Maybe guilty is a strong word. Let’s settle on “urgently yearning for making your child feel known and seen; creating a space in time with them that is just their own; setting aside your wants for their needs”. Do I need to go on, or are you already thinking “I MUST TAKE THE EXTRA TIME FOR MY KID(S) NOW!!!”

Chris and I find pockets of time or set aside a half a day, sometimes spend money and sometimes don’t. Without a concrete “we must do this on X day with X amount of money”, it just seems more natural.

So today, specifically, Mindy was in summer day camp and Dallas is in Florida for an alone trip with my Momma. (Something she has planned to do for years when her grandchildren each graduate from 5th grade…. wonder where I get the urgency to make my kids feel special? It was definitely done for me growing up…. I just didn’t notice the sacrifice until I had kids of my own.)

I had an appointment at 9:00 am until 10 for counseling. Chris was taking Lillie-Mae into his work until 1:00. The plan was for me to pick LM up after and head to Lake Winnie! Mindy would go home with a friend from school giving us the whole day together! Instead… it rained and my appointment was cancelled. “This is the way it’s meant to be.” had to be my response to changed plans or else the day would start on a sour note. Picked up blueberry donuts from Dunkin, picked up my girl and asked her what she wanted to do since the amusement park wasn’t going to happen. “SHOP!!!!” In my mind, I decided today would be a “Yes!” day (saying yes to everything), despite the excuses I could have.


Why am I being so specific with our day? 1. To remember it. 2. Transparently show you the back and forth dialogue between reality and what we want for our children that is constantly pulling at this Momma’s heart.

And shop we did! Except one tiny detail… Chris and I have MAJORLY cut back on spending. Like 0 wants and no eating out (those $3 donuts were a splurge!) to plan for things coming up in the future. Lillie-Mae did have an envelope with $25 at home, so I told her we could spend her money. The “YAY!” response settled it. Off to Learning Express (Chattanooga’s Best and maybe only toy store?) for her to blow it all. On the way, I got a message from World Market to get a free Toy Story Pez Dispenser just for stopping by! I tucked that pocket of awesome away to share with Lillie-Mae later. She took a solid hour at the toy store.

Being a “Yes!” day, I did gently guide her away from the giant sparkly, fuzzy, stuffed things that she already had a collection of at home and back to areas of creative toys I knew she would love. Settling on a sparkly clipboard that opened to store her drawings in work and a panda bear ring, she was stoked! At the checkout, she saw that some things were monogrammed with paint pens. “I wish I could have that done on the clipboard, but I want to save my money for pens at the art store.” I so wanted to just say “If it’s just a few dollars, Momma will pay for that extra.”

Well little did we know that was FREE for her to do! Oh the sparkle in her eyes when the cashier asked her if she wanted it done and she could pick out any color. She became very talkative and cheerful as we left the store in the pouring rain. Asking how long we had to go to the store and when did we need to get Mindy? She is little Momma in our family, always thinking of others and punctuality.

At Michael’s, she learned real quick that a yellow clearance sticker was like a golden ticket. Racking up enough supplies to glitterify the whole house and paint her Daddy two “D’s for his office, because he didn’t have any decorations”, and a pencil box to match her clipboard, we headed to checkout! The total was about $1.50 over what she had left of the $25, so I told her she would need to put one thing back. “OH NO, honey child. You just wait.” Said the friendly cashier to Lillie-Mae who had been smiling up at her the whole time. Scanning one coupon… then another…. and one more, her total was just right! That SMILE on her face. Goodness, worth it all!

Now, Lillie-Mae still didn’t know today was a “Yes!” day heading into World Market where she got a Bo Peep Pez Dispenser with three candy refills, “One for brother when he comes back and sister and me! Do you and Dad like these too?” She didn’t ask for anything else. The lady did give her a pack of gummies that was the cherry on top of the candy mountain. At checkout, Free again!

“Want to eat inside somewhere Momma???” Inside is a big treat for just a lunch day, because paying for chaos at a restaurant isn’t my jam. She wanted to go to Steak N Shake, but honestly I didn’t think we would have enough time. Lillie-Mae, “Well, we might not have enough time to go there and get sister. How about Chick-fil-A?” That works! Little does she know that I have hoarded bazillions of points and have a never ending gift card that has been swiped three times but still has money! Jackpot!

Sipping her lemonade, she told me she was saving it to last all day. I told her she could get a refill. Eyes big as the plastic lid, “I CAN!!!!” Apparently my children don’t know this, because they get water refills when they run out of lemonade. She chugged that and then said, “Why did you say I could?” “Today’s a “Yes!” day. Have you not noticed.” She didn’t! And trust me, this Momma says “NO!” a lot. Getting a refill, she got one more freebie! A stuffed cow! Couldn’t believe the irony as I had steered her away from them earlier at the toy store.

What a gift this random turned intentional time was!

I want all kids to know they’re loved, freely. In my house, that starts with me and my husband making it a priority. Make the time for your own kiddos as you can. Trust me, it will be beyond worth it.



Easter Baskets


Easter Baskets

Easter season to me means a focus on new life and celebration. Spring is a season of new growth. Where the seeds planted literally spring forth!

It’s a great celebration for a Christian. Walking day by day, Jesus’ last week and last hours on Earth puts the magnitude of sacrifice into perspective.

So where do Easter baskets play a roll in this? I’m not googling the Wikipedia article that shows that we shouldn’t celebrate bunnies or flowers. A heavy focus is on Jesus during Easter. And what did His life teach us? To love others well, unashamedly, consistently. To follow Him, trust His Word, and show up daily in this Love even when it seems like death has won.

Easter baskets are a way we show our kids love this season. The Guess Tribe isn’t big on giving gifts or buying toys apart from celebrations. We are keeping the focus heavily on Jesus but also celebrating new life.

Easter Basket Ideas:

• Items they already need
• Gift cards for older kids
• New Bible or Devotional
• Art Supplies
• Outdoor spring toys
• Handwritten card
• Candy

Is there something your kid needs that you could tuck back and give in their basket? Maybe spring tops, fun socks and even underwear! School supplies might need to be slightly replenished. Girls always love new bows! A bathing suit was in my Easter basket one year, and I loved that! Go for the glitter pencils that only last a month anyways. Target Dollar spot had lots of highlighters, pens, and notebooks.

Thinking of older kids, gift cards would be a great idea! These could be to their favorite restaurant (Holla, Chick-fil-A!) or an experience they’ve been wanting to do. Maybe there is an arcade, indoor rock climbing place, or movie that could fall into this category.

Probably the most Jesus thing you could pass onto your kid is a new Bible or Devotional. A good family devotional for kids of all ages (and especially good for non readers) is Louie Giglio’s Indescribable. A boy devotional Dallas has liked was The One Year Book of Devotions.

Target Dollar Spot will have all the needs for toys and art supplies! We got the cutest sand terrarium there, some 3-D wooden puzzles, coloring books, silly putty, and spring garden items for kiddos. For Dallas we got him some kinetic sand (didn’t think of getting this for an 11 year old, but it was a hit for him at cousin Henry’s birthday party). Sticker books are a huge

Your spring and summer outdoor toys are probably either lost, broken, or old news. Refresh those for their Easter basket! Nerf balls, water toys, sidewalk chalk, special markers or crayons, paints and art books. This idea has endless opportunity to pass on some intentional, kid specific items.

An Easter basket shouldn’t be stressful and size is irrelevant. The thought is what counts! That’s why I love sticking in a handwritten card to your child. Words of affirmation and love, sharing what you see in them that’s new and exciting! Especially if they have recently had a heart transformation to let Jesus into their sin filled lives, celebrate that!

Candy… oh how I loathe and love it. I’ve already went through a pack of Reese’s Easter eggs, personally. I preach that food dyes and high fructose corn syrup are horrible (daily staples) for a kid’s diet. However, is that the message I want to get across to my kids. Just the same as I don’t want them to hear loudly the “Don’t do’s” of Christianity, I don’t want them to be focused on the “can’t haves” so much that they miss out on a fun celebration. The kids got a couple of Easter treats in their baskets, and I’m so thankful for the organic and dye free options! These can be inexpensive! Don’t read organic and think “break the bank”! Once again, thoughtfulness and being intentional matters most. Lillie-Mae will freak out and feel so special that I got those yellow Peep Bunnies for her. Easter eggs are filled with Black Forest gummy bears.

How do you handle when to give Easter baskets? Growing up, my Dad hid them somewhere in the house on Sunday morning. My sister and I would run through with sponge foam rollers in our hair, looking for them. Then stuff candy into our mouths until our parents made us quit and start brushing out our curls for church. I tried that approach once…. It was already stressful to get everyone ready for church with feeling the pressure to look a little extra, adding an Easter basket reveal was not joyful AT ALL! So now we hand them over the day before. This doesn’t make us more holy, it’s just what works for the best, fun outcome.

I planned to have Easter baskets done to show you fancy pics. However, 1. I don’t want the pressure of comparison passed on from my platform 2. There is no plan for extra cuteness this season for the Guess kids. (They won’t even notice.)

Friend, hear me on this. Easter is the most important holiday for a Christian. Without Jesus’ death and following resurrection, we wouldn’t be able to live in the spiritual freedom in relationship with Him that we do today. If you’re struggling with having peace in your life, have a foundation of anxiety that you can’t get to the root of, I want to urge you to call out His name and just have a conversation. This might be weird to talk out a conversation with someone you can’t see. But just starting with “Jesus, I believe in you. I know there is something missing from my life and that something is you. I know that God created me with a purpose to worship You, and I commit to that by admitting that I am a very lost, sin filled human that needs You in my life. I love you! Thank you for loving me!”

If that’s a conversation you have for the first time, please let me know! Whether you’ve been in church or never have in your life, this might be a prayer conversation you need to have today.

Wondering where you can go to church this weekend to join in the celebration? My church, Calvary Chapel Chattanooga, has services Saturday at 4 and 6 pm, and Sunday morning at 9 and 11. We will be there Sunday morning, come sit with us!

Where do you stand with Jesus and Easter baskets?


Chattanooga Spring Activities


Chattanooga Spring Activities

Spring time in Chattanooga is known for more than it’s bipolar weather and allergies from all the blooming things. Our family loves to get outside all year round, but that warm sunshine intensifies cabin fever!

Free is our jam. So usually anything we do with the kiddos has no cost. My tip for enjoying your surroundings is to work with what you have. What’s most popular in your city? Here, everyone hikes. Some might go once a year, some every other day. Tennessee River activities: fishing, boating, swimming, and tire swinging are favorite past times as well. Downtown Chattanooga boasts Coolidge Park with an antique carousel, river walks, plethora of bike riding opportunities, and the best local food spots + local art spots.

Whether you’re a local or visiting, there is plenty to do in Chattanooga!

Here’s a roundup/day in the life of a Chattanooga local turned tourist:
•Breakfast at Maple Street Biscuit Company

•Go down to the River Front behind the Aquarium (Check out ChattanoogaFun to see what local events are happening in the square!)

•Find the Beginning of the Trail of Tears and follow history. You can walk/wade in this area. I wouldn’t recommend getting fully soaked when the afternoons can still have a cool wind. But do take your shoes off and enjoy the river view.

•Bluff View Art District is a drive away, but has a beautiful sculpture garden to go through! It’s rarely crowded, and a magical little fairly land for kids. This Mom loves it too!

•Pop into Rembrandts for a sweet treat and coffee refill. Their outdoor seating is gated. (Moms of toddlers, you know the magical gift of enclosed seating.)

•Walk/Bike across the Walnut Street Bridge to Coolidge Park.

•Bring a ball and kick around! Blankets to lounge in the sun.

•Hungry for lunch? Be adventurous with OPA! It’s a white building with blue roof. Authentic Greek!

•Shop around for local art on River Street.

•Parents and children can ride the antique carousel for just $1 a ride!

•Lions and tigers and bears shoot water from their mouths at the Coolidge Park Fountains. These are turned on when the weather warms up. Meanwhile, enjoy climbing and dancing around! Bring a bluetooth speaker and entertain the crowd. Be THAT FAMILY!

•Walk back across the bridge and to Community Pie. Chattanooga has many pizza places: Crust, Lupi’s, Pizza Bros, SO MANY! Just currently on a CP kick, because the kids can order their own custom large slice, plus they have a small selection of Milk and Honey ice cream.

Night Fall is a recent fun discovery for our family. Honestly, I thought it used to just be for bikers and those that wanted to enjoy a music show. But food trucks, community, kid fun, and plenty of room to roam brought us back many times last year! Look for this event in the summer, beginning of May.

More Activities:
High Point Climbing- amazing spot for kids! Can be pricey, but it’s well worth it with climbs for all ages + trained guides eager to help kids have the best time.

Creative Discovery Museum- We love this spot! It’s not a place kids can just run around and enjoy all willy nilly (except for the two story enclosed playground!). Guide your kids to the art, music, dinosaur digging, and creation activities. Plenty of helpers close by to get your kiddos involved. It’s just overwhelming, I think, if you let the kids loose. Parents, get in there and play/create with them!

Shameless plus for Mr. Guess who helped to create the EPB power game in the Create Station and a Stop Motion interaction in the Art area. We love the CDM! A yearly membership will cover two visits, so it’s worth it if you’re coming back. A membership helps take the weight off of us thinking we need to do it all in one sitting.

Tennessee Aquarium- Get the season pass and come back time and again! Workers love answering questions here. It’s interesting to note that the aquarium does a lot of conservation work for our rivers close by. Kids will see sharks, turtles, alligators, butterflies and penguins up close! Local? Have your kids pick one or a few spots to visit in a day. This way you aren’t taking an entire day to visit it from beginning to end. Most always, our kiddos choose to go see the sting rays, “MR. BIG Shark!”, and the butterflies.

Pumpkin Patch Playground (pictured)- This is literally a kid’s dream playground. I’ll let you discover it without giving away all the surprises!

Pumpkin Patch Playground

Tennessee Hikes:

If you really want to see Chattanooga like a local, go for a day hike. Take snacks, water, and wear comfy walking shoes. No equipment needed! Just a happy attitude and willingness to break a sweat while seeing nature.

There are many you can do, but these are my family friendly, all ages suggestions:
Glen Falls Trail- parking is tricky with this spot on the mountain. But it’s one of the most unique hikes closest to downtown. Tall rock formations that the kids can crawl all over. A vast wooded area for kids to go off trail and feel some independence while still being within view of parents. Cute little passages through rocks to see a waterfall. (keep going on this trail! Just when you think it’s over, there’s more!). I suggest going to the second fall and then turning back around the way you came.

Cloudland Canyon- Technically in Georgia, this hike is on Lookout Mountain. It will have a heavy flow of people on the weekends, so we like to go on a school off day, early morning, or week night before sunset. There are lots of stairs, so beware if you have weak knees. Pace yourself. No one is trying to be a hero to get up/down to the falls the quickest. Even if you just want some good canyon views, you barely have to leave the parking lot!

•Chickamauga Battlefield- Staying in Georgia, this flat park is great for bike riding and walking for all ages. Stop at the Visitor Center first and take a look into history. There’s a ton of guns in the back that my son gawks at. They’ll help point you to trails, but honestly, we just park, walk down a trail until we are half tired then walk back to the car. No bears here, but there are deer! Drive slowly, don’t litter, and have fun!

Reflection Riding- This is a member only location. $70 is the family price and well worth it in my opinion. Theres miles of walking trails, community events, animal education, and a Bamboo Forest that is a slice of magic.

Natural Bridge- Located on Lookout Mountain, but quite a drive, this is an unusual spot that doesn’t get much foot traffic. It’s literally a rock bridge. I flipped out when I first saw it! Maybe not the best place for toddlers, because it’s very much a primitive location. It is a great spot for little rock climbers and explorers.

•Lula Lake Land and Trust- You’ll have to plan your visit here in advance by securing a spot. They are not open all spring season. The views, falls, and friends you’ll meet on the way make this a family friendly day hike. Definitely pack a lunch and let the kiddos wear a a swim suit to wade at the bottom of the falls.

Foster Falls- Recently discovered, and about an hour drive out. I am itching to get back here! We wore layers on a spring morning in March and shed half of them by the end. It’ s moderate at a steady pace, but doable for all ages/health conditions. Lots of rocks on the way down, so Momma’s bring a helper if you have more than one toddler. There are climbing spots hooked in and ready to go. Caves for kids to stick their heads in. Linked is directions to the Small Loop. I suggest the Fiery Gizzard Trail head as a start. Good parking, and you’re going down then around, instead of up and down. You’ll see when you get there.

I left off a LOT of favorite food spots! Mainly, I want you to know that Chattanooga/North Georgia is a great place to get your kiddos outdoors. It expands their minds and helps them to imagine. What’s your favorite Chattanooga spring spot or activity?

Instagram: @amomsbestguess for more Travel and Hike Highlights!
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What You Have is Just Enough


What You Have is Just Enough

“No matter how many wrong choices we made past, we can always decide to make the right ones today. The past need not determine one moment of the future.” Wilda Culp from “The Story Keeper”.

Southern women and their sayings. Usually true as all get out, but not what you always expect to hear! The above quote is from a fictitious character in “The Story Keeper”. A must read book! {Part of my new year ambitions was to read more. Always up for book suggestions!}

I have to admit, I’m as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs to share some things with y’all. Looking back on some intense past failures in my marriage, as a mother, friend, business owner, and child of God was an inward look needed, but ripped off some old bandaids. Hanging there, all frayed and unforgotten, I decided not to go into 2019 with fears holding me back from what I knew was my purpose in life.

Today. We have today, right? If you woke up this morning with breath in your lungs, then you have purpose. Is it a great big long search of “finding yourself” to find that purpose? Nope. You have everything you need for today and the next right at your fingertips.

Jesus gave us a great illustration for this in John chapter 6. The disciples were faced with a hungry crowd of people. Jesus had compassion on them, because they looked like lost sheep without a shepherd. The disciples solution to feeding them? Send them away to a nearby town to buy their own food! Smart!

Immediately, reading this I thought of conferences where you split in between sessions to eat lunch with others. I personally hate this! It’s a rush to find out who’s going where, what friend group do you want to be with, what’s the cost of the restaurant, will we make it back in time or miss something driving too far away to get a bite to eat?! Ah, the stress of it all! I would much rather bring a humbly filled lunch box and chat in our seats about what we just heard.

I can imagine the disciples feeling of contentment when they found a solution! But what did Jesus say, "You give them something to eat.”

Ummm… Hold up, Jesus. That’s going to cost a lot of MONEY to feed all these people.

”How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”

<<What do you have? Start there.

Did you sense anything from my previous illustration of eating lunch out? Insecurity! Fear of being uncomfortable! I joked with a friend recently that I have hardly any physical insecurities. It is true, somewhat! When I’m in my element talking in front of people, laughing with friends, chatting with my sister, or playing with my kids I feel confident, purpose filled, and content.

But my husband would tell you differently! When I’m with the person who knows me most intimately, those insecurities bubble up. I sense every unshaven hair and past failure equally as deep. Perfection is strived for in my marriage, and it has stifled some of the most beautiful “could be” moments.

In the midst of it all, I continuously hear the Lord telling me He will do great things with our marriage and commitment to each other.

What I might have today is a committed marriage. It just doesn’t seem enough to show the world how good God is, because I have taken it for granted in years past. I know you can relate, sister friend. You’ve cried on my shoulder, confessed some deep mistakes and insecurities, told me you wanted out, mourned for the wife you wanted to be…

Let me give you this to eat, and I pray the Lord multiplies it in your heart, “He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” <Ephesians 2:10

Mr. Guess

You don’t need to search out what your purpose is. You already have it! Today is your day. Jesus has already made a way for you to leave those wrong things in yesterday… Take Him up on his offer and walk out your new year in freedom!