#016: Hard is Not the Same Thing as Bad with Abbie (M is for Mama): Finding Joy in the Midst of Motherhood

Indwelt Women Podcast - a podcast for Christian women on faith, marriage, and motherhood.

Maggie: Hey, welcome back to the Indwelt Women Podcast. This is Maggie Baker - we have a special guest with us today. She is the gal behind the blog M is For Mama. She is a wife; she's a mom. She loves color; she loves to decorate and she is the co-owner of the shop Paint and Prose. I have brought her on today to talk all things Jesus and motherhood. Let's welcome Miss Abbie.

Abbie: Hi there!

Maggie: Hello! Thank you so much for spending time with us this morning!

Abbie: I'm excited to be here.

Maggie: Yay! For those of us that may not be familiar with you, can you introduce yourself a little bit more?

Abbie: Okay, so my name is Abbie - we've already covered that, obviously. I'm a mom of 7 - well, mama, everyone calls me mama. I have an 11 1/2-year-old, a nine-year-old that will be 10 in November, so they're 18 months and 3 days apart. And then the 6-year-old will be seven in November - they are three years and 6 days apart so we're big on those really even increments for a while there and then I have almost a 5-year-old twins - they'll be 5 in 3 weeks. They are identical twin girls and I have a 2.5-year-old and I have a 7.5-month-old in the house.

I don't know what bored is :) I haven't seen anything resembling bored or boredom for a long time and I'm good with that. If you had told me that I was gonna be a mama to seven kids 20 years ago, I don't think I would've fallen over it in shock; I just kinda could've cocked my head to the side and been like, "Huh! Okay." Because I certainly wasn't opposed to having children and I definitely had an idea my head always that the Lord is in charge of how many children I would have. But the concrete number of seven would have been really overwhelming.

So, thank the Lord He only gives them to you one at a time, or in my case, 2 sometimes. But you can kinda do that in a gradual way. So the last 11.5 years have been lots of babies.

I'm not a crunchy granola mommy type, but I enjoy certain aspects of that like clean eating. Right now I'm doing a challenge called Whole 30 with my best friend Lindsey. I've had all but one of my babies at home, the first one was at the hospital - not a bad experience at all - but I just discovered very quickly that I'm super independent and I don't like people checking on me, I don't like IVs in my arms at all, I don't like the hospital bed and I've just always been a healthy person so I hadn't spent any time in the hospital before so it's kind of a drawing experience so I decided to check out home birth.

So I had all my kids from then on at home, including my twins which was my best birth ever. I'm a fitness instructor. I have been for 10 years now - well, almost, 9 years. Nope, nope, 10, I was 5 months pregnant with my second when I started teaching fitness classes. So I love fitness; I grew up playing every sport that was practically available in East Texas which is where I live. So no lacrosse, no water polo, nothing fancy like that. But lots of soccer, softball, and basketball, pick up games and tennis and stuff like that. And I still really love to move.

I love color. I love to decorate. I love frugality so I'm never gonna buy anything very expensive; I'm always going to cross-reference everything, it's probably gonna come from a thrift store or the extra 60% off clearance rack or whatever. That's a thrill for me; I enjoy looking for treasures and finding really great deals knowing that the room I put together is peaceful and enjoyable and pretty but it also didn't cost me a lot of money.

So I guess another thing to know would be that we're actually finishing up our second DIY house. My husband is a computer programmer but he also is a very talented builder. People a lot of times are like, whoa, those don't usually go together; usually it's computers and do software. He grew up with a dad who had a construction company; he kinda taught him how to build. He and his dad are a dynamic duo. They could honestly do more than what I've seen crews of men can do in a whole week. They really work well together with the way they work. So that's kind of been our big baby for the last two years other than the real babies. We homeschool. We have a homeschool co-op we go to one day a week, and my mom actually comes in and helps homeschool two days a week, which is amazing. She is incredible and I'm so blessed to have her close by; she's my best friends. So everybody down to the twins homeschool at this point. So that's kind of like a nutshell although not a very small nutshell. That's a lot of information about me.

Maggie: I love it. Sounds like there's a lot going on so how do you navigate motherhood through all that when you still have a really small baby at home?

Abbie: You know, as much as I've got going on, most of it is centered around my home. I don't go to MOPS, I don't go to Bible studies - I'm not opposed to them but I don't attend any at this point. We have a very consistent routine so I teach fitness classes in the afternoons.

My oldest three go to my mom's house - I told you she's amazing - every Thursday night after she homeschools them during the day. They ride home with her and sleep there and then we have dinner at my in-laws' house with my mom and my sister-in-law and brother and their two kids. Saturdays are usually spent working on the house; Sundays are major days of rest, we go to church and then we spend all day together as a family.

So we do a lot together and I've trained my children to help a lot. I don't fold and put away laundry, ever. I don't do morning dishes, I don't scrub a lot of toilets because at this point with an 11-year-old, a 9-year-old and a six-year-old, and even the 5-year-olds, they do a lot of the picking-up and helping, so I guess my answer to that would be routine and keeping it close to home, kind of making the main thing the main thing, if that makes sense.

Maggie: Yeah, totally! I have a question to follow up: how do you train up your kids to help you? I'm assuming starting from a young age, right?

Abbie: Yes, on the one hand I love the effects of training; on the other hand I kind of despise the process like the very beginning part where they literally can't do anything. It is so grueling, you desperately want to be just kind of pointing at something and saying "you know you can see it" but they are so little they really can't just pick it up.

But I have seen firsthand how sticking with this in that area pays off now. 

You know, it's a process but it's just about being consistent.

Maggie: When you mentioned that you don't go to MOPS and you don't go to Bible study - and I'm pretty sure that's the case for a lot of moms out there - but they still desire to connect with God and they still need to draw near to Him so do you have any tips on how to still be in God's word in the midst of motherhood?

Abbie: So I think I posted about this the other day on Instagram and people were just like "yes, amen!": If you wake up early, they will wake up early - and it does not matter how many times they sleep till seven (I have early risers; they rarely get past 6:30, which is okay. But if it's 5:30 - not okay - they have to go back to bed.)

Let's say that they sleep till seven miraculously for a week. The very moment I think "yes, they're trained to sleep till seven." I will wake up at 5:45 and they will wake up at 5:43 - they just will! I don't know if that's Satan or if that's the Lord sanctifying you or if it's a combination of His allowing or what.

But I will say that family Bible-reading is our jam. Gather every morning and we read from OneYearBibleOnline.org (they also have physical Bibles if you prefer that); we have a prayer time and everybody that talks has to pray. It doesn't have to be complicated. It could be "Thank you, Jesus, for today; help us not to fuss or fight."- that's usually how the four-year-olds pray. 

I do get Bible-reading to myself as much as I can. I work with girlfriends on memorizing verses together; I work with my kids on memorizing verses. I try to snatch moments throughout the day; I was just listening to an audio version of the Bible while I was doing dishes this morning - but the main way we get a large chunk of God's word is when we do it as a family.

Maggie: How do you keep the young toddlers busy while you're reading the Bible? Or trying to keep them not to rip them apart?

Abbie: Right. So the twins are almost 5; for about a year they have been required to sit still and listen without any toys. And I think there's a lot that goes on with motherhood in terms of we psych ourselves out. We think they can't, they're hyper, they can't sit still, this is not gonna happen. The first week of trying to make it happen feels like war and not worth it. I'm sure the last seven days of Bible-reading time may have felt like a joke, like what am I even doing here? I could hardly get the words out.

Yet there are always seems to be this shift of almost... not magical but spiritual maybe. You just keep praying through it and there's a shift and one day they do better and then the next day they do better after that. So they are required to sit still. The 2-year-old can play with toys quietly on the rug; if you can't be quiet you have to sit on my lap which is actually way less fun for me than it is for them. Haha. And then you know the baby is either asleep or playing. So I would say just starting early and pushing through those days when it feels like "why am I doing this?!"

Maggie: Yeah! And in that post, you also mentioned joy because you were getting frustrated that you wanted to have a quiet time but then your babies woke up and so how do you stay joyous when life is just crazy with little ones?

Abbie: Well, I don't... sometimes... for sure. I'm not gonna claim that I always feel joyful. And I can definitely tell where something is affecting me more than others - sometimes it's just hormonal. Sometimes when hormones are crazy and I can tell that normally this wouldn't bother me but right now it is. Even knowing that, recognizing that like, "you know what, I'm a little bit off right now." It's not necessarily just giving yourself grace but being intentional like, stop, take deep breaths, go outside and stand on the porch, stop doing the thing that's not working and do something else instead that brings joy. Move around. Wiggle it out. Whatever it takes to get yourself back to a moment where you have the perspective which is these children are incredible blessings from the Lord; they may be driving you bonkers right now but that's only right now. Ultimately there's no place I would rather be. So just reminding yourself of the truth over and over again and then asking the Holy Spirit to do that too.

Maggie: That reminds me of the hashtag you use pretty often that is "hard is not the same as bad" - is there a story behind that? How did you arrive at this understanding that just because it's hard doesn't mean it's bad?

Abbie: Right. I don't feel like my life is hard. I think probably a lot of people think that my life must be hard because there are a lot of children involved, but I have food, I have children that love me, I have a husband that loves me, I live in a free country - I don't have any imminent danger or persecution. We read a lot of Voice of the Martyrs, which if you are not familiar with it, it is an incredible organization that reaches out to Christians that are suffering and persecuted all over the world.

It's such a huge perspective changer. These women that are forgiving their captors; they're forgiving people who attacked them, who took their husbands away and killed their children. I mean, you just come back to, I'm sorry but this temper tantrum is just really not that bad.

In this moment I may feel emotionally overcome, I may feel like I can't do this anymore, but a big dose of perspective when you step back and say, "Really? I can't handle a 2-year-old tantrum? Then how the world is the Lord ever going to, you know, entrust me with something that is truly great?" You know? I think of the parable of the talents: what you are entrusted with and what you're going to do with it. The more gold you have the more responsibility. 

And so I think probably the first time I said it was with my best friend Lindsey. We were walking the trails and we're talking about stuff - she has an autistic daughter and I was having twins that were just melting down every day in the car, just screaming, literally; they had a hard time for almost 2 years. Every car ride - we drive every day because I teach almost every afternoon. We drove for 30 minutes one-way and so for an hour every day I was getting screamed at. I remember just thinking, "Lord, my nerves are so shredded right now by this. But it actually isn't that bad. I can tell you're shaping me in this." 

And I remember saying words like, you know, people say how things are hard all the time but hard is not the same thing as bad. And I stopped and I heard myself say that and I thought, "well, that's basic." But I needed to remind myself of that constantly. And apparently, other people need the reminder too because it's probably one of the most resonant things that people tell me that I say.

Maggie: Yeah, I saw that quote and I was like, "yep! That is so true!" Just this week especially, it's been hard for me with whiny kids and a needy dog. I was just like, "Oh my Gosh, I can't handle this!" But hard is not the same thing as bad! There's so much worse going on out there this is just peanuts. So, how has motherhood sanctified you in the last 11 years of mothering?

Abbie: Oh my goodness. I don't think that I wouldn't necessarily think of myself as a super selfish person. Well, we don't tend to think of ourselves in that way, so pretty much everybody would say that, but it has put up a mirror to my self-centeredness like nothing else.

I didn't grow up with a lot; we were pretty poor. My dad had to work 13-hour days and my mom didn't work; she actually homeschooled us. So to be able to do that we just didn't eat out, we didn't do fancy thing ever really. I didn't feel deprived growing up at all but I felt grounded. You know, I'm not like, "Hey, you know, I don't expect much. I'm not a fancy person. I'm not an entitled person."

But then you have children and you realize just how entitled you are because you think you're entitled to... you know, just like what I was talking about the other day, and that's 11.5 years in - you think you're entitled to a quiet time. Or, you think you're entitled to a little bit of space, "stop pulling on me", "stop pulling my hair", "would you just nurse the normal way, you crazy baby"

But honestly we have no rights as Christians; we are not entitled to anything. Our model is Christ, who being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped but he laid his life down for us and took on a horrible death. And so when you look at that model, we see Jesus wrapping a towel on his waist and washing his disciples' feet which is the lowliest job and accepting people who were lowly and despised.

And so I knew all of that, you know, head knowledge but it wasn't until I had kids and found myself frustrated with them when they didn't do what I wanted them to do or you know enduring potty training issues - that sounds funny but one of mine had major issues for a year. I didn't think he would ever quit and so just coming out of that and seeing the Lord's goodness in shaping me and giving me more patience - I'm not a naturally patient person. I can wait for things for a long time - I'm not a I-have-to-open-the-present-now type of person but if I ask you to do something I need you to do it now; that's kind of my attitude. Or "this doesn't make sense; this is ridiculous; you're crying over nothing." - that will come out of my mouth, for sure, sometimes. And so just realizing logic doesn't have anything to do with this right now. This is not about you getting to your deadline or this is about the Lord saying "this little child is your responsibility and your opportunity to love, what are you gonna do about it?"

A lot of times what I did with it, especially early on, was not super godly even when I thought it was. I was really hard on my firstborn and I wish I could go back and be so much more easy-going with him. You know, I think probably you'll find this out later since you have little bitty kids that you are a different mama with your third or fourth or if you have five or whatever than you are with your first because you think... you either don't know what you're doing or you think you've already figured out and then you learn exactly how much you don't know.

Maggie: Hm. That makes me think, okay, how harsh have I been with my first one. Haha. Do you have any stories of God meeting you right in the mess of motherhood? I'd love to hear.

Abbie: Oh my goodness. Sure. And, obviously, I'm a talker and so let me try and boil it down to one. I think probably the thing that I just mentioned: one of my kids having potty training issues. There were times when he didn't go for a week and I remember sitting on the bathroom floor and literally holding onto his little legs because he couldn't get down until he went - because we were in that state - (and just for those who are worries, he was fine. We talked to the doctor. He was not in any danger of digestive issues. He was just afraid.) That sounds so silly but I cried out to God so fervently during this time; I mean it was just gibberish like "Oh, Lord, please. Oh Lord, please! Please!" You know, just over and over again. 

And just, again, that fear of "what if he's like this forever?" Even knowing that it probably wasn't even true, feeling like that could possibly happen, that this could last forever. But the peace that I got from the Holy Spirit has been so near to me, even though it's something that was such a basic kind of young mothering thing. It was just so reassuring that the Lord cares about all the little details of our lives.

Maggie: Yeah. That's so true! If you have to look back on your journey of mothering, do you see a constant theme of God showing up His character or His promises?

Abbie: Probably it would just be that when He says that when you train up a child the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it - he is giving you tangible truths to hold on to. I talk about training a lot and I know it makes me sound like such a non-fun mom, haha. But we have a lot of fun, we do; we do a lot of enjoyable things in our house.

But I just feel like I am constantly clinging to the promise as I'm praying for these children, as I consistently go back and show them the error of their ways, as the Lord consistently shows me mine, that He is revealing His truth to me in His Word which is you stay on the straight and narrow path, you hide God's word in your heart, you do the training, you wake up and you do it again. It really does produce not just results because that sounds very business-like, but it produces a softer heart and it peels away the layers of stubbornness and pride. Really, it says "Create in me a clean heart, O God." - every single time you catch yourself in the moment of mothering where you think, "I have just screwed up so badly, Lord. I'm just the worst."

And He goes, "well, that may be true but you've got this next minute to start over again and my promises still stand. Go back to the truth. Go back to what you know is right. Let me show you moment by moment rather than expecting a big revelation.

Maggie: Yeah, His mercy is new. Just last week I was like, "oh my gosh, is it bedtime yet?" But then I was like, wait a minute, why am I thinking this? His mercy is new every minute. I can just go to God right now instead of hoping for a new day, a new beginning.

So I saw your post that you posted a couple of weeks ago. You talked about how your goal is to teach your kids to reflect God's goodness and love in a world that desperately needs to know that they're sinners and they have fallen short of the glory of God. 

That is really important for us moms to teach our kids but some days it's hard enough to just survive, to just go through the day, so what encouragement do you have for moms to really feed their babies' souls instead of just feeding the body?

Abbie: Yeah! I remember feeling, when my kids were really little, the biggest gap I have between kids is 3 years and 6 days. I say this all the time: as much as things can get chaotic and there's a lot going on around here because there are nine people in this house, I still feel like that my hardest mothering moments were when I just had two - just had two, haha -  because A) I didn't know what I was doing - I still don't but at least I have some coping mechanisms. Haha!

B) I was a lot more selfish and I was expecting more time to myself. We were doing a lot of house-building and so I was kind of single-mothering in a lot of ways. Sean would work all the time and so it was just.. it was a lot! I remember feeling weird talking about the Bible, even though I grew up with it. I remember feeling awkward like ridiculous that this 2-year-old would judge me for bringing things back to Jesus. That's ridiculous.

But really, they don't care. Their hearts are so open and soft when they're little. And so I think I just forced myself to constantly bring it back to Jesus. We read from the children's Bible as a family; each night we would pray over our meal; just basic little things but when they would sin, I would try to address the heart of the issue in the simplest terms possible like "you have sin in your heart. Sin is a desire, or like when you want to do bad things and we want Jesus to help us with that so let's pray about it." Like a 15-second prayer "Dear Jesus, please help me to do better next time when I wanna take my brother's toy."

And I felt so silly, I'm not gonna lie. I felt so silly for the longest time when I did that. I haven't had a lot of contact with children growing up. I only had one older brother and other than helping in the nursery, I didn't have a lot of contacts with talking to them but the more I did it - just same way with everything else in life - the more it became a habit and the more it became a normal feeling. At this point, almost constantly, we are talking about Jesus. I'll say "Praise the Lord!" or I'll say "this is like the Bible verse that we're learning" or if they're sinning or if I'm sinning, I'll say, "you know what, guys, I need to apologize. I am not doing what Jesus wants me to do."

So just His praise being constantly on your tongue and His Word constantly on your lips. The less you think of it in terms of something separate that you do, the more it becomes that way I guess.

Maggie: Yeah I love what you said about building a habit in us. I'm the same way - I didn't have a lot of contact with little kids growing up and then I also didn't grow up in a Christian home so when it comes to talking to my kids about Jesus I'm like, "uhhhhhh." Yeah, I feel silly when... cause I'm trying so hard to connect all the little things to Jesus and then my 2-year-old is like, "what?!" But, at this point, when they're so little, it's not really about them understanding but it's more about building the habit in me and practicing how to connect the dots so that when they're older and can understand, then they'll see the dots and connect the dots.

Abbie: Yeah! And sometimes they're the ones connecting the dots for you. They're turning around saying, "mama, that is exactly what we talked about yesterday in Bible reading" or, you know, sometimes it's a little more convicting, "mama, I didn't do that because I was afraid you were gonna yell at me or get upset at me." And I'm like, yeah, they saw it; they saw my sin.

Maggie: Yep. Do you have a verse you always come back to when you feel overwhelmed by motherhood or just life in general?

Abbie: Ah, yeah, yeah. Galatians 6:9. Absolutely. It says don't grow weary doing good because if we persevere we will reap the harvest. It says in the proper time we are going to reap. The Lord knows what that proper time is. That is pretty much my life verse. We have it as a Paint and Prose print, along with the Hard is Not the Same as Bad, those are our 2 biggest sellers because I think moms constantly need these reminders. Do not grow weary of doing good. If you do persevere, there's going to be a harvest. Because if we are doing this for nothing, or even just for well-behaved kids, even if they're just going through the motions, that's pointless.  But if we are raising up future impactors for Jesus, future gospel sharers, that's encouraging, that's the goal of what we're striving for.

Maggie: Yeah. Have you seen little snippets of some of the fruits of your labor? Of you laying the foundation? I know you have an older kid - an 11-year-old - have you seen those fruits of labor?

Abbie: Yes, oh my goodness, yes. Okay so he is super sensitive, super emotional, very compassionate but the sensitive and emotional parts can skew self-indulgence. And so when he was little and he's my first, I was really hard on him, and other than my twins he's probably my most empathetic and emotive. And so I didn't know what to do with him. I'm really pragmatic; I'm not overly emotional. I have emotions, I'm expressive, if we were on a video I'm using my hands all the time and making faces all the time. But I don't get overly worked up and let my emotions take control usually.

So having one like that right off the bat I had to learn - well I didn't have a mothering style - I learned a different mothering style than I thought I would use with him and I constantly adjusted it. There were times when I just thought, I don't know what this kid is gonna be like, I don't know if I'm ever gonna reach him. I mean, he's amazing in some ways and in other ways he's still amazing but they weren't the amazing that I liked. They weren't my kind of amazing if that makes sense. So watching me change so that I appreciate the amazingness that I didn't before as much and then watching him grow, I can remember - and it was definitely gradual - so he sucked his fingers when he was little. From 3 weeks on, we never gave him a paci. I was the no-paci first-time mom. (I'm all about pacis now.)  

So, no pacis for him but he didn't care. He sucked his fingers since he was 3 weeks and he sucked them till he was four. We tried all kinds of different methods of getting him to stop and he just wasn't interested. We told him he could have a 4th birthday party if he would quit before his 4th birthday and he did! Just cold turkey and that was such a huge progress for him, such a milestone for him. 

And then I remember I started teaching my kids to fold laundry so he would've been almost 2 because Della, my third, would've been a baby. The boys despised folding laundry, they thought it was the hardest thing they had ever done in their lives. Now they were four and six, or five and six, so they were really little and it was hard for them.

I remember they would just sob. I would sit down and teach them how to fold and then I'd come back and they hadn't done anything so then we would have to do discipline and then we would start all over. I remember one time when Ezra melted down because he would, he had these really strong meltdowns when he was younger. Really emotional - he'd be super joyful and then really, really, emotional. 

I remember a meltdown over folding clothes, like big time, it was one of the worst I've ever experienced, and probably three months later, it had passed, he had matured even in those short months. And I remember him telling me not that much later when he was 7, "Mama, folding clothes is easy. I like folding clothes."

Nothing had changed about the folding, I mean, maybe he was a little better at them but his perspective had changed and matured because we had stuck with it and he kind of moved passed his little irrational hatred of it.

And now he's the type of kid that will be like "I went and got the baby up. I dressed him and I changed him. He's in his car seat and I have Theo's shoes on and I gave the twins snacks and we're ready to go!" That's not every day but if you told me that would happen when he was 2, I wouldn't have believed you. Haha.

Maggie: That's so sweet! I can't wait for that day.

Abbie: Yeah! I hear a lot of that. "I can't wait for that day!" Haha!

Maggie: Do you have any practical wisdom for other moms juggling between marriage and motherhood and homemaking and maybe even a job outside of the home?

Abbie: I really think routine is really important. I'm not a strictly scheduled person so when I say routine I don't mean you have to get up the same time every morning and do everything at the same time every single day. But if you have at least a basic structure for your children to follow, they do so much better, so much better. I am a habit lover and I am a creature of habit but again I'm not like... I know friends that are like it's 2 PM, down for nap; at 10 AM down for a nap. Or, 8:15 and they're all in bed.

We have looser kind of ranges for times during the day that things happen.  There are days when they get skipped altogether or we're in town at the zoo so the baby doesn't get his nap or he naps in the stroller or the toddler doesn't get his nap. You know what, he may lose his mind later on in the day but the thing is it's the exception rather than the rule.

So a basic day for us would look like I usually get up around 6:30 with my toddler. The twins get up pretty soon after. We're gonna have breakfast; we're gonna do family Bible-reading; then we're gonna do our morning routines; we're gonna start school; we're gonna make lunch - I don't make lunch for everyone, in fact, I hardly make lunch for anyone at this point. They either make it for each other or themselves. I will be prepping dinner in the afternoon. The twins and Theo will be down for a nap or a quiet time and then we're gonna get ready to go to the gym. We'll have snacks. We'll get out the door. I'll teach. I'll have dinner prepped; come home, we'll have dinner and we will have some sort of family time, read the Bible and do bedtime routine.

And again, I don't do bedtime routine for them. I don't brush my children's teeth, they know when we say "go do bedtime routines", they take care of each other, the older ones take care of the younger ones; they take care of themselves if they can. They actually read the Bible to each other at night, which I think it's really cool for them to take ownership of that and then they go to bed.

Sometimes that's as late as 8:45, usually it's in the 8:15 range. I know you didn't ask about our daily routines but that's pretty loose, it's very fluid, but it's gonna be what each day looks like and I can't tell you how much my children enjoy knowing what to expect. It makes them much more able to cope with what they need to do next if that makes sense. If I'm throwing curveballs at them right and left, they tend to get kind of fractious.  

Maggie: Yeah. There's a structure but then there's also freedom and fluidity within that structure. I like it. Oh. I was also gonna ask you about your shop that you co-owned with your best friend? When did you start it?

Abbie: We started 2 years ago in the summer so almost exactly 2 years.

Maggie: Nice! What is your mission? What do you really want to do? What is your dream?

Abbie: Honestly, we're both really busy; she has more businesses than anybody I know. My husband works with my brother; they have a family business together, they build houses and then I have Paint and Prose and then he has his own computer programming and I blog, all that good stuff. So within that kind of knowledge that we're all so busy, the goal originally was: I love words because it's called Paint and Prose. I'm the prose and she's the paint. She's an incredibly talented, classically-trained artist. We were both at the gym one day, walking on the tracks takling about how I use words on my blog but what could we do to combine the two for a creative outlet that would reach people and be a blessing and be just fun for us.

So it wasn't this grand scheme - it was more like an outlet and it's just kind of grown from there.

Maggie: I love it. If everyone wants to just hang out with you and connect with you more, where can they find you?

Abbie: At my house. Haha!

Maggie: Haha! In Texas.

Abbie: At my house or in the gym. Yeah. Haha.

Maggie: Perfect. Sweet. We'll travel down to Texas.

Abbie: Sounds good! I would actually love that.

Maggie: I actually haven't been to Texas so someday :) Someday I'll go down.

Abbie: Yep. You need to come. And you need to come to East Texas because there's lots of good parts of Texas but I think the classic view of someone who's never been to Texas is like tumbleweed and cowboy hats and horses and desert. But where I live it's green and humid but not like dry-you-out-hot and very much not what people picture as Texas at all.

Maggie: I like it. Well, thanks so much for spending time with me. I have definitely learned a lot from you. Thank you for your encouragement!

Abbie: Oh, you're so welcome! Thanks for having me on!  

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Podcast music: Sunny Holidays & Summertime by Nicolai Heidlas