Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

I love March. March madness, spring and the smells of spring. Not the spring forward part, where we lose an hour of sleep, but everything else. Spring to me is new, fresh. It is starting over.

I declared the year 2016 the year of change for our family. My husband, Dave and I will become empty nesters, he has re-launched his speaking career and I have started a new job as well. All things good and positive. Change is good.

Spring is also a sad and melancholy time as it is the second anniversary of my brother Ryan’s passing. April 1, 2014, of course, a day I will never forget.

I talk to Ryan every day. That peace of talking to a loved one who has passed way, gives a sense of calm in the storms of life. Some of my conversations this past few months have been asking him for a sign. Have you ever heard of the penny from heaven story? If not, it goes something like this. It has been said, if you randomly find a penny, it is a sign that a loved one is missing you or sending you a message that everything will be okay.

I ask for signs a lot from my brother. In the last two years, I have received two pennies. The latest one happened on a recent road trip to Kansas.

As I mentioned above, this has been a year of change. My husband, not coaching basketball anymore, took the time to launch his speaking career and took advantage of watching our son run collegiate indoor track. Something he was never able to do while coaching basketball.

We made our way to Pittsburg, Kansas a couple weekends ago, a seven hour fast trip. We loved it. The travel, watching Nolan run. All of it.

On Sunday morning, we got up in our hotel and Dave went downstairs for breakfast before me. I slept in, took my time getting ready. Nolan didn’t run until 4:00 that afternoon, so we were just hanging out. I walked downstairs and turned the corner to the breakfast area and saw my husband having a heart to heart with another hotel guest.

Not just any guest, it was Ron “Gus” Gustafson. Now, many of you may not know Ron but he is one of the most inspirational, motivational people on the planet. He lost an arm in a farm accident as a young child. Losing a limb never stopped Ron. He went on to become a very successful high school athlete and collegiate basketball player. He played for UNK.

Now, fast forward, Ron “Gus” Gustafson is a successful motivational speaker and author of “Fully Armed.”  As a speaker, my husband always admired Ron. In fact, he hired Ron in Hartington to speak when Dave was a principal there. I joined them for breakfast. Ron was funny, gracious and positive.

He talked about his son playing basketball for Pitt State and we compared notes about our athletic sons. Amazing conversation and morning. He then shared another story of Brad Bigler—a basketball coach from Southwest Minnesota University in Marshall, MN.

Brad was featured on an ESPN profile called E:60-Bigler’s Way,  about the heart breaking story of losing his mom in a kayak accident in 2011 and then the next year, losing his 5-month-old son in a car accident. He and his family were traveling to their cabin in Minnesota and broad sided by a drunk driver.

Coach Bigler wanted to recruit Ron’s son to play for him in Minnesota. When Ron and Coach Bigler talked, basketball was barely a mention. You see, Brad Bigler was still coaching but his world was spiraling out of control due to two very tough significant losses in his life. As one could only comprehend and imagine the pain this man was going through. Absolute heart break.

The ESPN E:60 story not only highlighted Coach Bigler’s tragic story, but interview Ron “Gus” Gustafson as a huge influence in turning Coach Bigler’s life around. The two met through a sports connection and ended up connecting on a very human and compassionate level.

I sensed that morning there was a reason Ron Gustafson and Dave Zimmer were having breakfast together. A human connection. Years later, their paths crossed again. Dave, getting his speaking career launched and Ron, there to cheer him on and to encourage him. Just as he did with Coach Bigler.

I stopped at the lobby and asked the clerk for a good lunch recommendation for later that day and right on the front counter was a penny. There was my sign, my gift from Ryan that all will be okay. In the storms of the past few years, there is always a silver lining and always hope. Thank you little brother. Everything will be okay.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Renae Zimmer

My name is Renae Riddle Zimmer. I was born in Iowa and raised in Nebraska. I am a Midwest girl. I married my high school sweetheart, Dave Zimmer and raised two awesome kids. Nolan, 21 and Kamryn, 17. As we approach our empty nest years—we reflect a lot on our life—our kids—and being a part of the “sandwich” generation as well. Taking care of teenagers and aging parents. All the joys and difficulties that are ahead. We are solid in our faith—solid in our family and we love each other, support each other. I work a corporate job and travel. My husband is an educator and coach. We love to cook, garden, landscape, watch sports and enjoy our kids activities. We follow up college-age son as he runs cross country and track for Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Mo. And support our daughter as she is in the last year of high school . Where did the time go?

God Had Different Plans

In: Faith, Motherhood
Silhouette of family swinging child between two parents

As I sip my twice-reheated coffee holding one baby and watching another run laps around the messy living room, I catch bits and pieces of the Good Morning America news broadcast. My mind drifts off for a second to the dreams I once had of being the one on the screen. Live from New York City with hair and makeup fixed before 6 a.m. I really believed that would be me. I just knew I’d be the one telling the mama with unwashed hair and tired eyes about the world events that happened overnight while she rocked babies and pumped milk....

Keep Reading

This Will Not Last Forever

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman looking at sunset

“This will not last forever,” I wrote those words on the unfinished walls above my daughter’s changing table. For some reason, it got very tiring to change her diapers. Nearly three years later, the words are still there though the changing table no longer is under them. While my house is still unfinished so I occasionally see those words, that stage of changing diapers for her has moved on. She did grow up, and I got a break. Now I do it for her baby brother. I have been reminding myself of the seasons of life again. Everything comes and...

Keep Reading

God Calls Me Flawless

In: Faith, Living
Note hanging on door, color photo

When I look in the mirror, I don’t always like what I see. I tend to focus on every imperfection, every flaw. As I age, more wrinkles naturally appear. And I’ve never been high maintenance, so the gray hairs are becoming more frequent, too. Growing up a lot of negative words were spoken about me: my body, my weight, my hair, my build. Words I’ve somehow carried my whole life. The people who proclaimed them as my truth don’t even remember what they said, I’m sure. But that’s the power of negative words. Sticks and stones may break our bones,...

Keep Reading

Your Husband Needs Friendship Too

In: Faith, Friendship, Marriage
3 men smiling outside

As the clock inches closer to 7:00 on a Monday evening, I pull out whatever dessert I had prepared that week and set it out on the kitchen counter. This particular week it’s a trifle, but other weeks it may be brownies, pound cake, or cookies of some kind. My eyes do one last sweep to make sure there isn’t a tripping hazard disguised as a dog toy on the floor and that the leftover dinner is put away. Then, my kids and I make ourselves scarce. Sometimes that involves library runs or gym visits, but it mostly looks like...

Keep Reading

This Is Why Moms Ask for Experience Gifts

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Mother and young daughter under Christmas lights wearing red sweaters

When a mama asks for experience gifts for her kids for Christmas, please don’t take it as she’s ungrateful or a Scrooge. She appreciates the love her children get, she really does. But she’s tired. She’s tired of the endless number of toys that sit in the bottom of a toy bin and never see the light of day. She’s tired of tripping over the hundreds of LEGOs and reminding her son to pick them up so the baby doesn’t find them and choke. She’s tired of having four Elsa dolls (we have baby Elsa, Barbie Elsa, a mini Elsa,...

Keep Reading

When You Just Don’t Feel Like Christmas

In: Faith, Living
Woman sad looking out a winter window

It’s hard to admit, but some years I have to force myself to decorate for Christmas. Some years the lights look a little dimmer. The garlands feel a bit heavier. And the circumstances of life just aren’t wrapped in a big red bow like I so wish they were. Then comparison creeps in like a fake Facebook friend and I just feel like hiding under the covers and skipping it all. Because I know there’s no way to measure up to the perfect life “out there.” And it all just feels heavier than it used to. Though I feel alone,...

Keep Reading

When Your Kids Ask, “Where Is God?”

In: Faith, Kids
Child looking at sunset

How do I know if the voice I’m hearing is God’s voice? When I was in high school, I found myself asking this question. My dad was a pastor, and I was feeling called to ministry. I didn’t know if I was just hearing my dad’s wish or the call of God. I was worried I was confusing the two. It turns out, I did know. I knew because I was raised to recognize the presence of God all around me. Once I knew what God’s presence felt like, I also knew what God’s voice sounded like. There is a...

Keep Reading

To the Woman Longing to Become a Mother

In: Faith, Grief, Motherhood
Woman looking at pregnancy test with hand on her head and sad expression

To the woman who is struggling with infertility. To the woman who is staring at another pregnancy test with your flashlight or holding it up in the light, praying so hard that there will be even the faintest line. To the woman whose period showed up right on time. To the woman who is just ready to quit. I don’t know the details of your story. I don’t know what doctors have told you. I don’t know how long you have been trying. I don’t know how many tears you have shed. I don’t know if you have lost a...

Keep Reading

I Was There to Walk My Mother to Heaven

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Hand holding older woman's hand

I prayed to see my momma die. Please don’t click away yet or judge me harshly after five seconds. I prayed to see, to experience, to be in the room, to be a part of every last millisecond of my momma’s final days, final hours, and final moments here on Earth. You see, as a wife of a military man, I have always lived away from my family. I have missed many birthdays, celebrations, dinners, and important things. But my heart couldn’t miss this important moment. I live 12 hours away from the room in the house where my momma...

Keep Reading

God Sent Me to You

In: Faith, Motherhood
Newborn gazing at mother with father smiling down

I was a little unsure As I left God’s warm embrace: What will it be like? What challenges will I face? There were so many questions Running through my mind. I asked around for the answers I was hoping to find. Who will hold me And cuddle me tight? Who will rock me To sleep at night? RELATED: The Newborn Nights Feel As Endless As My Love For You Who will comfort me When I’ve had a rough day? Who will be there To take my worries away? Who will nourish me And make sure I grow? Who will read...

Keep Reading