Woman, Mother, Servant Leader

From a Middle East bomb shelter to the founder of non-profit Purposeful Living, Inc., Nadine McGowan shares an incredible story in Woman, Mother, Servant Leader.

I’m in awe of her resiliency and steadfast trust in God. Not only is she completely inspiring, but it was also easy to see how she leads. From the heart while simultaneously focused on listening to God and fulfilling His purpose through her work.

Nadine was born and raised in the Middle East. Lebanon more specifically. 

Ever since I was born, there has been a war. I remember being an 8-year-old and sitting with my cousins in a bomb shelter. In fact, I spent a lot of my childhood sitting in bomb shelters. This particular time though, I remember we were playing a guessing game of where the bomb would land. This was normal.

Can you even imagine? I know I for one, cannot.

However, at the age of 10, Nadine, her two younger siblings, and her parents moved to the United States. First to Long Island, NY and eventually to the Detroit, MI area.

10-year-old kids can be cruel, and I didn’t want to be the weird kid. Therefore, I learned English very quickly in my efforts to fit in.

She now embraces the weird. Without a doubt, it’s given her a different perspective on diversity than most. Moreover, Nadine has a grateful heart. As a result, finds herself encouraging her own son to be kind to others who are different. 

Enjoy Nadine’s inspiring journey of faith, hope, and purpose in Woman, Mother, Servant Leader.

Woman, Mother, Servant Leader- man and woman with adolescent son with a window in the background

Nadine, Jim, and Josiah enjoy an evening out for quality family time!


Even though Nadine’s degree was in elementary education, upon student teaching she had an epiphany. Frankly, her heart wasn’t in it.

On the other hand, she was selling Cutco knives to put herself through college and loved it. Through Vector Marketing and a combination of sales and leadership roles, she felt at home.

I did really well at Cutco. They saw, in particular, the leadership in me and while still in college, I was promoted to run a branch office. Crazy, right? I then took on the District Manager role and trained college students. Teaching and coaching, but in a entirely different manner than I ever imagined.

The district manager role brought her from Detroit to Indianapolis, IN. While in pursuit of establishing her own community in a new city, she became a Christian.

Before, religion was just a checkmark for me. However, as I plugged more and more into the community of faith, my questions started changing. What was the impact I was going to have on this world? How could I be of service and help? I was studying scripture and could feel myself changing.


Nadine and her husband, Jim, were married in 2008. Along with Nadine, Jim was also employed by Cutco.

We wanted to start our family and embarked on infertility struggles. Simultaneously, I was changing as a person. Spiritually, mentally, even professionally and that was confusing for some, including my work family. Ultimately, I decided to leave Cutco and a week after I did, we got pregnant.  

Their son, Josiah, was born in 2013.

Woman, Mother, Servant Leader- Nadine pictured in sunglasses with son and husband at baseball game

Nadine and Jim with Josiah taking in a baseball game for some family fun.

Nadine describes herself pre-motherhood as busy, driven, self-focused, but with a servant’s heart hidden underneath.

Nonetheless, after motherhood she discovered her servant leader’s heart was the hidden tool. 

I began coaching people. Initially, it was previous co-workers who wanted advice. However, I began to feel called to coach full-time. Bringing my business to life shifted me. Specifically, I had a deep desire to work with women.


On a mission trip to South Africa, everything seemed to come into focus for Nadine. 

Here I am on a mission trip to South Africa to help and serve these women. However, I couldn’t help but notice even with superficially nothing, the women in Africa seemed happy. I’m coaching women back in the United States who have successful careers and seemingly everything they could want, yet they were miserable. It didn’t add up.

Nadine began to think about the differences and landed on this:

We have become a completely isolated culture. The women I worked with were unhappy because they lacked community. Women desperately wanted to be supported by other women. To know they aren’t alone. To hear, “I support you. I believe in you.”

And as they say, the rest is history. 

It should be noted, there was still a lot of work to be done and plans to figure out. Arguably, this is still happening for Nadine and her team. Even so, the premise for Purposeful Living, Inc. was born in this moment of clarity.

Woman, Mother, Servant Leader- Purposeful Living Inc. logo


The Africa mission trip was in October of 2015. Purposeful Living, Inc., however, didn’t launch until January of 2017. Consequently, the 15 months between were spent in prayer, visioning, talking to people, and allowing God’s hand to guide her servant leader’s heart.

I came back from Africa and just wanted to give coaching away. We’re such an isolated culture and once I came into the realization of what was missing, my servant leader heart wanted to act. As I described my thoughts, someone said, “this sounds like a non-profit.” That definitely seemed like the next right thing, so I started down the path.

The vision became providing authentic community. Creating a girl posse even. Through a business coach and consultant, Nadine knew she wanted a faith-based organization to support the modern woman.

We define the modern woman as the woman who looks like she has it all together, but behind closed doors she’s hurting, searching, or lonely. We’re here to talk about real things with real women. To heal, to grow, to inspire, encourage, and empower women to be who they were created to be.

Nadine’s key steps to founding a non-profit:

First, trusting what God was putting in her heart through prayer.

Second, stepping down from other volunteer obligations.

Finally, putting an effective board in place. 

I prayed so hard on the board. In fact, it ended up being key because it served as accountability for me. Someone to report to. The wisdom and council they provided was invaluable. Effectively, showing me the benefits of surrounding yourself with the right people and how results come.

Woman, Mother, Servant Leader- Nadine with 9 other women posing in front of a green wall with Purposeful Living, Inc. logo

Nadine with the leadership team of Purposeful Living, Inc.


Nadine dove in headfirst. The first fundraising conference raised $17,000. There were 125 ladies in attendance in the rain! 

Women were hungry for a purpose and to serve. It was amazing and simultaneously overwhelming. Our first-year goal was to serve 50 women through coaching. Conversely, we served 307. I just continued to lead us to the next right thing. It was overwhelming to keep up. Our biggest challenge was understanding exactly who we served and how.

Nadine continued to pray on this. Feeling as though God would give her the answer in a “here’s the next right thing” manner. Starting with events, then workshops, then bringing on and training volunteer coaches, and eventually groups.

It took about two years for us to decide who we are and who we are not. Big picture, I just keep envisioning 100s of thousands of women dressed in glowing white, linking arms together sharing in community and faith.


Whether your goal is starting a non-profit like Nadine or venturing into business for yourself, I asked Nadine for words of wisdom in tackling what may seem like an impossible endeavor.

Try to figure out early what you do and what you don’t do. As I look back, figuring that out earlier on would have saved some time and effort. What do you do and for whom? What is your mission? Make this as simple as possible and you’ll be more effective.

What’s next for Purposeful Living, Inc.?

Being a culture shifter. We want to reach the unreachable. Women who are at home depressed. Lost in their day to day, we want to reach them.

Because of Nadine’s tumultuous upbringing in a war-torn country, she recognizes her desire for safety and stability. In addition, she has a strong sense of fighting against entitlement. Whether consciously or not, these traits have found their way into what Nadine has created in Purposeful Living, Inc.

We believe in authentic love and support. Moreover, support without strings attached.  

Purposeful Living, Inc. being the constant. The stability and safety for women when they may not feel this anywhere else in their lives.


As Nadine began to evolve as a person, it was met with some resistance.

“What are you, trying to be Mother Teresa?”

Change comes with resistance whether it’s from within or from those surrounding us. Ultimately, Nadine followed her heart and put her trust in an unwavering faith in God.

Just do the next right thing.

Finally, I asked her best piece of advice in motherhood. 

Don’t let your child’s choices define your identity. Allow theirs to be theirs. In fact, their decision doesn’t mean something about you. Women, especially, can get so caught up in feeling their children’s life choices reflect on them. Stay attuned into what they want and do your best not to force your own will upon them.  

Nadine may have what some consider an unconventional path to get to where she is, but frankly, that’s the beauty. Actually, this servant leader’s journey made her who she is today and created a non-profit honoring everything she believes in.

Thank you, Nadine, for sharing your story with The Mom Huddle!



Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.  

– Brene Brown


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Woman, Mother, Breast Cancer Survivor

Admittedly, it’s taken me about 40 years to recognize, but there are individuals who view life as a victim of circumstance. Conversely, there are the resilient. Those with an innate ability to rise. In fact, use their circumstance as a jumping block to create something beautiful. Story after story of breast cancer survivors exhibit this incredible resiliency and outlook on life. I’m extremely excited to share with you the story of Cari Hahn in Woman, Mother, Breast Cancer Survivor.

Cari took what some would call a terrible, even hopeless situation and turned it into intentional purpose and fulfillment. Giving back to others and creating hope even when, as she says, it felt like she had none. As the founder of Karma, Candles & Kind, she utilized her therapeutic candle making hobby and pivoted into a thriving business focused on hope and giving back.

Recently, she and husband Matt, added repurposed fire hose products to the candle business becoming Clutch & Kindle. Realizing their platform provided not only hope in cancer diagnosis, but also as a forum to break down the mental health stigma specific to first responders.

You really can overcome hard things. This is why we share our story. To give others hope. People are capable of much more than they believe. Don’t be hopeless. 

Cari was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 at the age of 40. Through chemo treatments, raising twin teenage daughters, and supporting her firefighter husband, enjoy hearing Cari’s story of resilience and self-reflection. She’s labeled as a breast cancer survivor but shows us this is only one of many embodied labels.

Woman, Mother, Breast Cancer Survivor- Cari pictured with scarf on her head with twin daughters in cheerleading uniforms

Cari attended Carly and Grace’s activities in either a scarf or wig during her battle with cancer.


As you can imagine, hearing the words, “you have cancer,” is a scary, confusing, even gut-wrenching diagnosis. After the initial shock wore off, Cari took the mindset her oncologist encouraged… trying to do everything as normal as possible.

“I’m going to be so good at cancer,” was her mindset. She is now telling me this five years removed with laughter and a bit of an eyeroll at herself.

However, this type A mentality did support her in getting through the 80-90 trips to the hospital for treatments. Additionally, the brave face she continuously put on for her daughters and husband. Even the full-time job she continued to work only missing a total of 3 weeks during her battle. 

The problem wasn’t with this mentality per say. In truth, she agreed it’s what got her through a very low point. However, the brave face was exhausting.

After cancer, I was tired. Exhausted really. Physically, emotionally, deep into my being tired. Women are great care takers but just not so much of ourselves.

She went out to talk about motherhood in general.

Being a mom is so overwhelming in our society. Think of all we’re expected to do. We have a hard time practicing self-care. It feels selfish. I think the stress of this is related to the uptick we are seeing of sickness, even cancer.


Cari beat cancer. Only to have an entirely different battle take form.

First, she lost her job. Feeling hurt and defeated, confusion of what to do next set in. 

Additionally, her husband, a firefighter for the last 22 years, was suffering with alcoholism fueled by coping with her cancer diagnosis as well as PTSD of a firefighter.

Matt is a first responder and there are just things they can’t unsee. He’s responding to the worst day of someone else’s life. The problem is most of them in that position (first responders) won’t ask for help or even talk about it.

Depression and helplessness set in for a bit. However, in typical Cari fashion, after a brief period of reflection, she shifted quickly to action. 

I have a degree in art therapy, I just never put it to use. Candle making became my therapy. My basement transformed into a healing space for me mentally. The business was never about money, but rather allowing me to heal.

Playing with scents and creating became an outlet. She then began Karma Candles & Kind. As the candle and accessory business took off and Matt continued in his recovery, they realized this creative outlet was an incredible therapy for them both. In addition, it gave the couple a platform to share their story of encouragement and hope to others. Clutch & Kindle which means Perfect Fire. 

As I look back on my cancer diagnosis, the treatment from my former employer, alcoholism with my husband, and all the things we’ve been through as a family, I wouldn’t change anything.

Woman, Mother, Breast Cancer Survivor- Cari with husband Matt standing linked arms in front of the firehouse door

Cari & Matt relaunched Karma, Candles & Kind recently as Clutch & Kindle.



Cari and Matt have twin daughters, Carly and Grace, who are now seniors in high school.

Age appropriately, of course, Matt and I have always talked to the girls very openly. Sharing with them and creating a trusted space. They are wise beyond their years, and I think it has to do with our open discussions. We sat them down and talked to them about cancer. Always being transparent, even beyond cancer when I go in for scans and I’m scared. We talk about it. It’s important to be open and transparent. They know my truth.

The Hahn house has become the safe space for not only the girls but also their friends. Cari shared even recently on a Saturday night their house being full of teenagers. She sat in the midst of them on the couch in their living room feeling all is as it should be. 

I’ve found that when you face your own mortality, you become much more intentional with the life you’ve been given.

This intentionality has had a direct effect on not only Matt, but the twins too.

As an example, Cari shared the story of Carly and Grace’s friends asking Matt to pray with them over something they were struggling with. Exemplifying the couple’s unique ability to connect, live intentionally, and share hope through struggle.



After cancer, Cari looked at her lifestyle and made a few key changes. 

First, prioritizing herself.

Take the time and fill your own cup. If you don’t, you can’t fill anyone else’s. Filling your cup is prevention for your own health. Stop putting yourself in last place.

Second, holistic living.

After cancer, I looked at all of our cleaning product, deodorant, and even make-up. And I take a lot of supplements. There are so many toxins and chemicals in our environment. Look at what you are not only putting in your body, but what you are around.

Lastly, understanding what impact her charitable giving is having.

October is a frustrating month for me. I don’t feel like we need to talk about cancer awareness at this point. We need research efforts for stage 4 cancer. Metastatic cancer numbers haven’t really changed in 30 years. Therefore, Clutch & Kindle donation efforts are intentionally made to organizations like Twisted Pink and IWIN- Indiana Women in Need Foundation. Organizations focused on research.


A cancer diagnosis becomes a forced reflective process. One which Cari is grateful for. In truth, it completely shifted the trajectory of her purpose.

You know you are in the right space when it’s what you want to do all the time.  

While Cari beat cancer and Matt is 3.5 years sober, they both still live with an underlying sense of anticipation. Things could change in an instant. Their accountability comes in supporting others and sharing their story.

On a recent trip, Cari and Matt celebrated their 22nd Anniversary, 5 years cancer free, and Cari’s 46th birthday. As they enter a new chapter, soon being empty nesters, the couple is excited to be on this new venture together.

When Cari began her cancer fight, she told the oncologist, “I want to see the girls graduate.” As she approaches this milestone, she cheerfully shares her mentality… looking for the good in situations is what carried her through and continues to do so. 

You really can overcome hard things. People will say, you are so brave and strong. But remember, sometimes brave and strong is just getting up and taking a shower. Or asking for help. That is brave and strong. 

Thank you, Cari (and Matt) for sharing your story.

Woman, Mother, Breast Cancer Survivor- Cari and Matt standing by a firetruck with smiles

Cari and Matt have been married for 22 years. They are enjoying this new venture together.


Want to support Cari and Matt’s business? Check out Clutch & Kindle.

Interested in the causes they support? Find those here:

Indiana Women in Need Foundation

Twisted Pink

Indiana Public Safety Foundation



Let light shine out of darkness.

– Anonymous


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During this motherhood journey do you ever think, I wish someone would have just told me… (fill in the blank)? Amazing nuggets of motherhood advice are like gold.

Sure, we absolutely get unsolicited, full of judgement, and even terrible advice at times too. On the other hand, sometimes we get a little dose of info that winds up being a game changer to the way we parent. The way we approach a situation. Even the way we feel.

Welcome to the Woman, Mother, Motherhood Advice feature. Contrary to the rest of the Woman, Mother, [enter a label] series for 2021, this is featuring tips and tricks from The Mom Huddle at large. And I LOVE it!

I solicited advice on everything from engagement with kids to self-care and everything in between. And The Mom Huddle answered.

Enjoy these motherhood advice tips from a team of experts!

Women, Mother, Motherhood Advice- black background with ADVICE written in white

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com


First, breastfeeding and leaky boobs (oh yeah, we’re going there):

“Instead of investing in breastfeeding pads – disposable or reusable, both of which are NOT comfortable (preach!!) – all it takes is when you feel your milk start to let down, take a free hand and press firmly against the leaky nipple. The result? It will stop your milk flow and keep you dry.”

Jordan shared this tidbit and said she didn’t learn this until baby #3.

“It was a GAME CHANGER for me! God gives us these amazing things to feed our baby, surely He gives us a way to stop them from flowing.”

Who knew? (not me… I didn’t know this was a thing!)


“As tough as it can feel, kids need to hear a firm “no,” have boundaries, and get in a routine.”

This advice was so spot on but can be one of the hardest when that cute little face looks up at you wanting to break all the rules. 

Expert advice from The Mom Huddle though, stand firm momma. You are doing great!

As I read this advice, I was taken back to Bryce being about 4 years old. He would go to sleep in his bed, but inevitably by 3 in the morning, the little ninja would sneak in and curl up next to me. We’ve established this before, but I sleep like the dead. In turn, this wee hour of the morning visit never really bothered me. In fact, half the time I didn’t even know he was there until the morning alarm went off.

It was cute and I loved the snuggles.

However, it became a nightly thing. Then it began to get earlier and earlier. Eventually leading to him not wanting to start the night in his bed. My allowance of letting loose on one boundary turned into months of trouble with bedtime which hadn’t existed before.

Boundaries, routine and “no” in their safe place with us as parents make them understand rules and feel safe in their environment. Even when they may act as though they want to break all the rules. #toughlove


On the other hand, find opportunities to also say YES, YOU CAN, or YOU ARE RIGHT!

This advice came from Dr. Nerissa Bauer and empowering kids.

“Yes, we need to protect our children and set limits and boundaries. But what if occasionally you did say YES? How empowering would that be to a child? Along with this, a rule of thumb if you find yourself constantly saying no, try to find at least 3-5 other ways to say yes. That way kids are hearing more empowering statements than negative ones.”

For the record, this doesn’t mean a yes to something compromising your family values. Create scenarios though in which your child will get a yes.

As an example, signing your pre-teen up for social media may be off the table for your family, but allowing your child to stay up 15 extra minutes to finish watching a show with you doesn’t feel like a deal breaker. In conclusion, pick your battles.

Being present and thinking through where you want to empower your child can support you in setting up situations where you can give them an empowering YES!

(Totally going to be utilizing and thinking through this for the record!!)


Remember our February feature Adenike Makinde?

“We bring stuff into our lives because it’s what we expect. I just always rejected the idea.”

While this statement can be applied to basically everything in life, she was specifically talking about her approach in each phase with her children. Rejecting the idea that teenagers are bad or will always get into trouble, as examples.

While it’s true, there will likely be moments of rebellion as teenagers figure out their new boundaries and grow into themselves, their entire existence cannot be summed up by a few labels. Just like yours can’t.

Truth bomb.

Her advice is to keep this in mind. Reject the notion to generalize teenagers.

Additionally, talk to them. Keep talking. Even when they don’t want to talk, they are listening. And watching.

Adenike has a very open and honest relationship with her kids. Sharing not only the wins and successes, but also loss and frustration. Obviously, keeping an eye on it being age appropriate, but knowing kids are better off in the long run having open and honest dialogue. Even feeling comfortable knowing they have a sounding board in you as a parent.

Woman, Mother, Motherhood Advice- black background with HERE TO HELP in white

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com


Have you gone through a period where you don’t know who you are any more?

Frankly, I can’t raise both of my hands high enough. As I reflect on this, it seems to coincide with shifts for the kids as well. As an example, from babies to toddlers, from toddlers to starting school, kindergarten to first grade, grade school into middle school… you get the idea. Identity as a mother tied up in what you are doing in the moment for and with your kids.

As this evolves, it can be confusing and even stray away from where we felt a fulfilling purpose.

It’s easy to lose ourselves in the midst of all of the labels we wear, especially the MOM one. Loved these little nuggets to think about from some of our followers.

Jennifer’s motherhood advice:

“Make kids a PART of your world but not the center of it. God chose YOU to be your child’s mother, which means your child needs YOU and all the things that make you unique! Don’t lose yourself in motherhood – rather share yourself with your kids. They will appreciate it much more in the long run!”

Tanya left us with this nugget as well about making time for your marriage. Date nights.

“This year, my husband and I set up a weekly Wednesday date night. Whether it’s a fancy dinner, a bike ride, an escape room adventure, or eating way too much Chinese food on the couch in our pajamas, it’s a scheduled time to connect. I look forward to it every week. I am consistently reminded of why we chose to do life together which brings joy to our marriage, our parenting, and life in general.”

Challenge- Take 10 minutes this week and do something for YOU and only YOU.


Recently the bees have been TERRIBLE at the baseball fields. Everyone is getting stung, including me last week. This prompted a conversation about home remedies for bee stings I thought I would share.

Baking soda paste is actually one of the top suggestions (multiple sources!). Mixing baking soda with water to make a paste and put on the sting can be very effective in alleviating pain and the itching. However, most ball fields don’t have a box of baking soda just sitting around (hmmm, maybe an addition to the first aid kit?!).

Alternatively, making a little mud paste (yes, dirt and water) can be a decent substitute until you can get home to baking soda.

A few other remedies for stings in general? Witch hazel, nail polish remover, ice, an onion sliced, crushed garlic cloves, and even peanut butter. 

Obviously, this is for someone not allergic to bee stings, but just for general ease of the swelling and itching.

What other home remedies do you have in your family? Throw them in the comments!


“Never say never. Ever.”

Mollie leaves us with this nugget having kids ranging from late 20s to 12.

It’s hard to deny this motherhood advice: It’s really best never to say never, because well, you never know! Surprises around every corner are normal in motherhood.

Maybe pre-kids, you said you would NEVER put your child on one of those kid backpack leash things. And then you spend one day at an amusement park with a toddler and realize its genius.

Or maybe you think you will NEVER be one of those parents who raises their voice with their children. Bahahahaha!!! Funny now, right? Your dog never talked back to you.

Point is, every mom is fighting a battle we know nothing about. In turn, give them some grace. Meanwhile, throw up a mirror and give yourself that same grace.

Yes, even when it’s time to admit you broke one of your NEVER statements. Is it really that big of a deal? In fact, it probably makes for a great story now.

Find your joy and focus on your joy.

I hope you enjoyed some of these motherhood advice tips no matter what stage you are in with your kids. Maybe this triggered a memory of a tip you want to share with The Mom Huddle. Feel free to share in the comments other advice you would give for ANY stage of motherhood.


Your most valuable parenting skill is learning to manage yourself first.  

– Dr. Laura Markham


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According to a recent survey, 81% of Americans think they should write a book. EIGHTY ONE PERCENT. That is roughly 200 million people. Now, I know a lot of people. Okay, not 200 million, but let’s talk percentages. Of the people I know personally, TWO have written books and ONE went through a publisher. Consequently, I’m proud to introduce you to the ONE, Jennifer Wright.

Jennifer and I grew up in the same community. You know, Small Town by John Mellencamp kind of place.  However, life has taken her on a great adventure since departing her roots for an undergrad degree at Indiana State and then on to Indiana University for a master’s in journalism.

She met her husband, Jonathan, who is an Air Force pilot. Accordingly, this began her travels around the world and inspiration for storytelling around every bend.

From Germany to South Korea to New Mexico (more than once) to Vegas and everywhere in between, including visiting 13 countries in one year, Jennifer and Jonathan have been on a journey. Not only a journey as a military family, but also as a real time research expedition for Jennifer’s curious mind.

More on that to come.

They have two children, son Matthew (10) and daughter Meredith (7).

Her other baby, newly published book If It Rains, dropped to bookstores on July 6th, 2021. If you haven’t read it yet, do so now!! In fact, I read it in 3 days. Yep, it’s that good.

Enjoy getting to know our August feature in Woman, Mother, Author… Jennifer Wright.


From an incredibly young age, Jennifer has had her nose in a book. Eventually, this led to what she thought was her calling. Journalism. On the other hand, God was making alternate plans.

“I was a journalist with an NPR station and quickly realized I hated it. It took a certain level of callous to shove a microphone in someone’s face as they watched their house burn down to get a story. I couldn’t do it.”

Even so, the urge to write continued to tug. After spending a few years abroad for Jonathan’s Air Force assignment, the growing Wright family moved back to the states in 2011.

“I had a desire to write and had been writing short stories and other articles while we were abroad. Then when Matthew was a baby, I finally settled in and wrote my first manuscript while we were on assignment in Las Vegas.”

Pause with me for a moment… she WROTE A BOOK while TAKING CARE OF A NEWBORN.



Was this book, If It Rains, you might be asking? No. In fact, Jennifer has spent 10 years in total writing, editing, writing some more, and living through 100s of rejections on what she considered great work at the time. Her advice on following a dream.

“You know when you have an inkling inside your heart, where you know what brings you joy. That’s what you need to pursue. Absolutely do it. But I also think if that calling is on your heart, you have to have perseverance. Especially, for example, in the writing game. There were 10 years between when I started writing and when publication of If It Rains happened. I absolutely wanted to quit. There were times I was just crying out to God, why does no one recognize this? But I had this nudge… just keep going.”

When I asked if she would try to get the first two manuscripts published now that she has one published and another on the way next summer, she shook her head no.

“At this point I don’t think so. I mean maybe I will go back and edit them one day knowing what I know now, but there is something about those being mine. Being the start of my writing that honestly feels like I should keep them to myself.”

Woman, Mother, Author- Cover of the book If It Rains with a young woman walking through tall grass with long braids


If It Rains became an idea for Jennifer as a story line in 2014. Rocking her then infant daughter Meredith as she watched a dust storm roll in across the New Mexico skyline.

“I’m naturally curious and was just in awe of this dust storm. I started researching why these exist, how they form, and it took me down the path of the 1930s and the Great Depression. One documentary I highly recommend is The Dust Bowl by Ken Burns. All of the historical information began to create a story in my head about two sisters living during this era.”

I really want for everyone reading this blog post to go out and read the book, in turn I’m not going to give away too many of the story details. Even so, one of the many cool things about this book is the advice Jennifer was given about writing in general.

“Write what you know. Kathryn and Melissa, the main characters, are loosely based on my own sister Erin’s and my relationship. She is also in a military family, so we don’t get to see each other much, but we text daily and talk all the time. You’ll recognize traces of the motherly instinct of Erin coming out in Melissa’s character. And Kathryn being strong willed and childish at times just like myself (said with a grin).”

Another influence on the characters and the storyline? Wizard of Oz, one of Jennifer’s favorites. Consequently, Kathryn’s adventure in If It Rains was inspired by Dorothy’s encounter with the tinman, lion, and scarecrow.

In hindsight, I absolutely see the connection.


If It Rains is considered a Christian historical fiction. It was important to Jennifer the book have elements of faith being challenged and the ways in which the characters grew and responded. And although the book is fiction, it’s historical elements are researched and take the reader on a very realistic journey into what life was like on the plains of Oklahoma during the Great Depression.

“My goal in writing, specifically Christian historical fiction, is for the reader to be challenged, encouraged, and inspired to read other books. So much can be learned through history even if the characters and story themselves are fiction.”


At this point, I was in awe of the fact Jennifer has not only written several manuscripts, but all while also being a mother. Specifically writing her newly published book while having a toddler and an infant. My next question was, HOW ON EARTH DID YOU DO THIS?

“Planning was key. When they were little, I would write during nap time and whenever I could sneak in writing time. It took me almost two years to write the first draft of If It Rains. I can very distinctly remember sitting in the parking lot picking up my son from kindergarten and having my laptop on the steering wheel.”

How do you focus and shift so quickly in those small snippets of time?

“Having a limited window, I had to be focused. I’m a hard-core planner. Therefore, I knew in each writing session what was going to happen in that chapter beginning to end. I had to have that planning so when I sat down, I could get creative then in those 30-minutes with the story. Unquestionably, being a mom and having little ones changed the way I write.”

Woman, Mother, Author- Jennifer pictured with her husband, son, daughter, and family dog in a desert sand family pic

Woman, Mother, Author Jennifer with her family enjoying their desert destination.


The Wright family has moved a lot over the years. Friendships have been key for Jennifer to maintain not only her sanity, but also her writing.

She has a lot of author friends and is an avid reader of all their books, both for pleasure as well as to learn.

Jennifer credits the publishing of If It Rains to one of her friends and mentors, Samantha.

“She encouraged me to keep going, even when all of the rejections were coming in and I was ready to give up. She told me; you have something here. Just keep going. This is good.”

We all need a friend like Samantha.

She also credits books as being some of her best friends. Books help her get through those lonely times, especially when moving to yet another unfamiliar place.

“They (books) can be a great escape and as silly as this may sound, like some of your best friends. Picking up one of your favorites and getting lost in the story is a lot like visiting an old friend.”


How does your own faith come through in the characters?

“I think it’s important to talk about faith in a way that isn’t all about happiness. Sometimes your faith is challenged and that’s where you grow. Additionally, I want to be authentic but also provide inspiration. You can go through horrible things and come out with your faith even stronger. It’s a message I wanted to portray throughout the entire book.”

When working with a publisher, how much of the book did you have to change to make it into what they wanted?

Tyndale was wonderful. They made suggestions, but it always felt like suggestions and not forcing my hand. I was able to keep the integrity of the story as I wanted, including the ending which was really important to me to have it wrap up the way it did.”

And no, I’m not going to share the ending with you. Nice try.


Jennifer’s busy juggling writing, publishing, and promoting her book in addition to being a mother. When asked what advice she had for other mom’s feeling themselves torn and trying to balance: 

“Be present. For Jonathan and I, we never want our kids to feel like mom or dad are putting their careers before them. In turn, I do my best to give them attention when they are with me.”

A good mother day to Jennifer is one where she has been engaging, had a good night’s sleep, and they’ve done what the kids want to do. Feeling as if “Mom’s ours today.”

Days often get filled with “have to do’s”. She ensures the kids have opportunity to engage in a way they want to engage. Whether that’s laying on the floor and coloring, reading, going to see a movie, whatever they decide.

“As moms, we build up in our head and think we have to do really elaborate things with our kids. In reality, they just want to be able to make decisions and feel engaged.”

How has this perspective influenced the book you wrote?

“Every mother has an aspirational mother figure they want to be. For me, Melissa was the character in the book who played a mother figure of who I aspire to be. She’s kind, generous, caring, and who I can be on my good days. But more realistically, I’m probably Kathryn who can be immature and snarky. Every mom has that dichotomy of who they are and who they want to be. Move forward with grace for yourself and do your best.”

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing pieces of your writing journey and motherhood experience with us. If It Rains is fantastic, and we can’t wait until next summer for Come Down Somewhere!


You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself. 

– Glinda, Wizard of Oz


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Picture this scenario with me. A church nursery on a Sunday morning. Teenage girl patiently helping entertain toddlers as they play with their blocks. However, one particular toddler continues to throw himself to the ground in a full-on tantrum. Despite all efforts, he cannot be consoled. Two adult women off to the side whispering to each other as they point to the tantrum throwing toddler, “well, you know his mom works.”

First off, it is astonishing the impact a simple, thoughtless statement has as we set up our belief systems in life. Amy took me through her story of being a driven lawyer and her journey to this point. Additionally, she shared how being the teenage girl in our nursery scene above caused her years of limiting beliefs about being a working mother while still trying to honor her calling.

Since then, however, she has acknowledged the underlying presence of a skewed belief system and continues to work through the infamous mom guilt. Which is one of many reasons she makes a great spotlight for The Mom Huddle.

We’ll come back to the impact of mom guilt on Amy’s journey later, but first I’d like to introduce you to our feature in Woman, Mother, Driven Lawyer – Amy Cornell.


Without a doubt, Amy epitomizes the phrase, “be the best.”

She is driven, has a huge heart, grit, and most of all is unapologetically authentic. Her journey into law school didn’t come in the form of family lineage. In fact, her roots of “I was the weird farm kid allergic to everything,” makes her incredibly relatable even with all of her educational as well as professional accolades.

Her journey shows all women it is okay to admit you aren’t happy in the place you are and feel empowered to do something about it. In fact, listening to your gut is more often than not the way to go. Second, it’s natural to alter your lifestyle and even your dreams as life circumstances shift. Lastly, acknowledging the suck in a moment, is not only perfectly acceptable, but also healthy!

Enjoy our feature Amy Cornell: Woman, Mother, Driven Lawyer.


Amy grew up on a rural Illinois farm in a loving, Christian home. She attended Purdue University for a degree in management. Next stop, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Eventually, she finished her academic career at the University of Arkansas for a specialized degree in Agricultural Law.

Ag is a fundamental part of who Amy is. In particular, policy and government affairs piqued her interest. In turn, she took on roles with the State Department of Agriculture, adjunct faculty positions at state universities, as well as Policy Advisor and Counsel for Indiana Farm Bureau.

She and her husband, Matt, have always functioned as dual income home. As a lawyer, Amy didn’t know exactly where she wanted to focus her talents, but after a number of years she found her sweet spot. Running a trade association while simultaneously a Vice President at a law firm, Bose McKinney & Evans/Bose Public Affairs.

Admittedly, it is easy to see how Amy connects with her clients. She shows up as herself, is extremely genuine, and has a deep level of care for others. That’s why when she started to feel pulled in more directions than she could mentally handle, it was very difficult to admit.

“I always want to help. There is nothing more fulfilling to me than someone coming to me with a problem and telling me they think I can be the one to help them solve it.”


Matt and Amy waited for a number of years to have children. Then almost seven years ago, they adopted Savannah, the light of their life.

“She is amazing. A little leader in training… a lot like me! She is and will be our only child so is the star of our household. She’s funny, kind, assertive, loves animals and to dance. I’m just extremely grateful for the chance to be a mother.”

Amy describes that they have a role reversal family.

“Matt takes care of so many things for our household that a lot of others would consider likely ‘mom duties.’ He is amazing. He knows how Savannah likes her hot dog cooked, what she eats for breakfast, does his own laundry… to be honest, sometimes it’s hard to admit he does all of this to other women because I get strange looks and feel self-conscious about it.”


Amy’s role with Bose was exciting to her. She not only brought in new clients to the firm and worked on policy with local and state officials, but also traveled the world for conferences, speaking engagements, and events.

Simultaneously, it was hard.

“I put all of this pressure on myself to be the best. Doing more than what was even expected of me, but I felt the pressure of my own expectations. Trying to be everything for everyone. While neglecting myself.”

Amy’s mom suffered a brain aneurism and then a number of surgeries and procedures followed. As a result, her mom is confined to a wheelchair and needs around the clock care. This caused a fundamental shift in Amy over the course of a few years.

“As much as I love my clients, they weren’t going to be there to help me in and out of a wheelchair if something happened to me. That would be my family. The realization sort of smacked me in the face that in a lot of ways I was putting everything else ahead of my family. Trying to be everything to everyone.”


Her wake-up call really came to a head in the spring of 2021. At her current pace, she was missing out on precious family time she no longer wanted to sustain.

As a result, she made the choice to leave Bose while still continuing her role with the Agribusiness Coucil of Indiana

“My priorities shifted. Ultimately, I realized I was missing so much with Savannah and Matt. The model was no longer working for me, but I had what I would call the best break-up ever. Bose was nothing but good to me. So supportive and extremely gracious about my decision to leave. Knowing people cared so deeply really helped me work through this shift personally. It’s a special place with a great culture. In particular, I will miss the teammate aspect of it for sure.”

Despite Amy’s humble thoughts on this, I would venture to guess the relationships established had a lot to do with Amy’s genuine personality too!

Woman, Mother, Driven Lawyer- Amy with husband, daughter, and dog posing in front of tree in the fall

Amy – Woman, Mother, Driven Lawyer – taking a moment to pause with her family and enjoy God’s beauty.


At this point, I was in awe of Amy’s leap from the seemingly glamorous role, not to mention comfort zone, into unknown territory. She is now entirely focused on serving as the President of the Agribusiness Council of Indiana instead of simultaneously trying to juggle being a Vice President at the law firm as well.

“I can’t run around putting out other fires without my own house burning down.”

With this in mind, it felt like not only a great wake up call for Amy personally, but also took great courage to take action and do something about it. I asked what advice she would give to Savannah if she found herself feeling this way in the future.

“Strike the balance. Don’t give up too soon but also understand life is too short to continue feeling so overwhelmed. Only YOU know when you get to that point. Trust in yourself. It is okay if a job isn’t a good fit. But make sure you understand if it’s truly time to make a move or if you are just being big drama (said with a series of giggles!).”


In spite of her excitement for the shift to balance, it hasn’t been ALL easy either. Amy admitted it is difficult to stand by and watch others support her former clients. Those relationships were very strong and special to her. Definitely natural for her to have feelings of loss in this shift.

“I’ve learned you have to be willing to be flexible. There are definitely things I’m going to miss. Traveling for work, certain working relationships, being in the thick of everything going on. Even so, I’m also learning it’s okay to allow one dream to shift if there are bigger priorities. I’m at peace and diving all in with a new adventure. I also now have the bandwidth to do things for the Agribusiness Council of Indiana that were just ideas before, but I didn’t have time to implement.”

Her advice to working moms struggling with balance:

“Your family is the one who is going to be there, so invest the time. Think hard about what you are comfortable with as your own work identity and then communicate. It’s okay to want things for yourself career wise. Communicate that with your family and figure out what works best for all involved. Some seasons are really hard and that is okay.”


Amy is full of energy, and while her plate is full fulfilling ACI members’ wishes, this time, she comes with the experience of knowing she can strike a balance working for not only her but her family as well.

“I’m still figuring this out. For anyone struggling with balance and feeling the conservative Evangelical mom guilt, I see you. I hear you. The fact you are concerned shows your heart is in the right place.”

Amy learned, over the past six years specifically, life ebbs and flows in career priorities between spouses. Additionally, kids tell you what they need either through word or action.

“Savannah sometimes just comes and sits with me on the couch. She needs me and it feels good. She won’t always want to do that; therefore, I’m soaking up these precious moments.”

Amy’s professional success comes from a career of showing up and being genuine. Her drive right now is showing up and being genuine for her family and the Agribusiness Council of Indiana. From there, sky’s the limit.

“For anyone out there in a tough season, you will make it too. In fact, I’m hugging you through the screen right now.”

Thank you, Amy, for sharing your journey with The Mom Huddle!


Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create. 

– Jana Kingsford


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Motherhood, career, child behavior stress. Not knowing what to do as a parent. Even feeling guilt or unease about your skills…or lack thereof. Subsequently wondering what others think of you and bouncing between trying not to care and analyzing yourself to death.

Any of this sound familiar? I have good news. You are not alone. In fact, even trained pediatric doctors have similar thoughts in their own motherhood journey. Don’t believe me? Meet Dr. Nerissa Bauer. Woman, Mother, Behavioral Pediatric Doctor.

Frankly, I found our conversation FASCINATING.

After a career in academia and a medical pediatric practice, Nerissa took a leap into entrepreneurship. Specifically, she now works with families of children diagnosed with ADHD, depression, anxiety, and other behavioral disorders.

“It’s a privilege to walk with families on this journey. I want to help them feel confident. Not everything can be prescribed and it’s important to meet them where they are. I recognize there are universal struggles, but I utilize a tailored approach for understanding and to instill confidence with my families.”

Enjoy getting to know Dr. Nerissa, Woman, Mother, Behavioral Pediatric Doctor!

Woman, Mother, Behavioral Pediatric Doctor- Nerissa posing on the beach at sunset

Dr. Nerissa Bauer -woman, mother, behavioral pediatric doctor – enjoying some downtime on the beach.


Nerissa completed her residency at the University of California San Diego where she also met her husband, Benjamin. She described the med school experience:

“While in med school, all I really knew was taking care of patients. Obviously, that’s what a doctor is and does. On the other hand, after launching into my career, I recognized additional avenues beyond diagnosing and treating. For instance, teaching and research became a big part of my medical journey.”

During her training in San Diego, the tragic Columbine school shooting took place. A pivotal point in not only Dr. Bauer’s career, but also her approach with patients and families.

First, she saw the trauma this incident caused in her pediatric patients and wanted to figure out a way to educate not only kids but also the parents. Additionally, she was adamant about more education on gun safety in her own patient interactions.

She and Benjamin then moved to Seattle where she attended the University of Washington to earn her Master’s in Public Health. Nerissa became engrossed in the research. Fascinated to improve not only the behavioral care in children through primary care, but also improving the systems for parents. Above all, education and tools being the primary focus.

“Discussing parenting as a doctor with parents in a 15-minute wellness appointment is HARD (impossible). Yet parenting is a big and overwhelming responsibility. No one is trained to do this job.”

For the record, I’ve never felt more seen than in that moment. YES!


The Bauer family moved to Indianapolis for Nerissa’s work at the IU School of Medicine. Her roles there consisted of clinical rotations, teaching, and research. Additionally, in 2016, Dr. Bauer started a blog, Let’s Talk Kids Health.

Let’s Talk Kids Health is a play on words. One of Dr. Bauer’s foundational teachings for parents is to stop utilizing the word “let’s” unless you plan to actually participate with them. For example, “let’s clean up the toy room.” The word let’s implies you will be cleaning with them versus giving them the task of cleaning the toy room themselves.

Such a simple and interesting shift!

For a time, the blog filled the void she was feeling, but after 13 years in academia at the hospital, she felt called to do something different. In addition, she hit burn out trying to wear so many different hats day in and day out.

Extremely grateful to be able to take time off, she did so to process her thoughts on where she wanted to make the most impact.

In turn, Nerissa shifted her focus more specifically to the blog and how this parent platform could be expanded. Her goal always being to engage, educate and empower kids and their families, in particular those with behavioral challenges.

Parent training workshops began to take form.

“I saw an opportunity to support families by educating on the subject of ADHD to both the kids and the parents. Kids with ADHD now learn why their brain works in this way. This understanding then helps them to be more confident and compassionate as a family. I love watching the transition into confidence of my families.”

Her 8-week course takes a family on a mission. Even assigning kids the role of detectives in their own adventure. Equipped with tools and props to keep the kids engaged while learning about their brain. One of her graduates described the process:

“Each mission assigned a task at home that didn’t feel like homework but aimed to develop new habits and routines to address the deficits related to ADHD. I give this course 5 great big stars and a bear hug for the thoughtful moments of affirmation spread through the training in super-secret missions.”


At this point, I was so curious what it was like to be a doctor, nonetheless a pediatrician, and have kids of her own. It felt to me like being an expert in this area would be amazing! Nerissa laughed…

“When my daughter was around 3 or 4, I was working at Riley and specialized in teaching pediatricians specifically for the 2-12 age group. My daughter was in a stage of having awful tantrums. While out in public or at home with the windows open and she had a tantrum, I would think to myself… ‘WHY WOULD ANYONE LISTEN TO ME????’ It was a really eye-opening experience and I believe helped me walk with patients and their families with more empathy.”

She also shared the mixed emotions of having a very busy job and wanting to ensure work-life balance not only for her but also for her young family. This became a larger struggle as the kids got older and she took on more and more responsibilities with her work.

Her kids were a big catalyst to her taking the leap and trying something different from the research and teaching she was so accustomed to. In fact, Jack (14) and Emma (11) have been extremely supportive of Nerissa’s newest business venture into entrepreneurship.

“I feel like I have a second chance in my career. A rebirth to the career fulfillment piece for myself. It’s exciting!”

A few keys Mother AND Doctor Nerissa shared about raising kids:

  • Have the conversation. Always. Be proactive. For example, she has a great resource for starting the conversation about guns you can find here.
  • Kids thrive in structure and routine.
  • You can’t take the mothering out of a mom, but we need to give ourselves permission to fuel our own tank. Don’t lose your identity. In fact, modeling this behavior to our children is extremely important.

Woman, Mother, Behavioral Pediatric Doctor- Nerissa with her son and daughter on the beach in Hawaii

Emma, Nerissa, and Jack enjoying the beaches of Hawaii for family vacation.


While Dr. Bauer still sees patients two days a week, she also has established a number of programs to support families. A lot of these resources pivoting to virtual in 2020 and having a larger than expected impact.

First, Facebook lives for Listen & Learn sessions for families. Dr. Bauer is joined by nationally recognized experts to discuss parenting, mental health and other family topics. A great way to supplement topics parents discussed with their pediatrician but would subsequently love further discussion.

Second, Read & Grow with the parenting book club. A group setting for reading popular parenting books with twice a month interactive discussion. Parents gain perspective and communicate with not only Dr. Bauer, but also other parents facing similar challenges.

Finally, Commit & Take Action through virtual courses specific to behavioral health. Supporting families to find their strengths and remind them they can get through this as a team. “Where you are now is not where you will be down the line.” Giving families hope and confidence to work towards their unique NorthStar.

“Kids are resilient and have so much to teach us. Give them the why and they are fine.”

I absolutely loved this line. It was in reference to 2020 and everything kids and families have gone through but applied to so much of our conversation. Dr. Bauer was not downplaying the effects of 2020 by any stretch. But rather simply pointing out adults can learn quite a lot from the kids and how they are bouncing back.

When I asked what she has learned from 2020 and being an entrepreneur, here was her response:

“I learned there are different ways to help and meet them (the families) where they are. Through education and support. I am feeling fulfilled and also as though I’m reaching a larger audience with my blog, Facebook lives, and parenting book clubs. You can’t always know the impact, but the information is out there and that makes me feel as though what I’m doing is important.”

I couldn’t agree more and immediately went online and signed up as a subscriber to Let’s Talk Kids Health.


Dr. Bauer left the world of academia and a hospital practice to pursue something of deeper meaning for herself. She saw an opportunity for more parent and children education, and she took the leap. What an inspiration she is!

And yet, she is humble enough to note that she doesn’t feel like an expert parent, nor will she interact with her parents as if she is all knowing. This was extremely evident when one of her parents passed by as we sat outside and enjoyed our smoothies. The parent was so excited to meet her in person (all virtual up to this point) and you could feel the appreciation and love of Dr. Bauer and her teaching.

I couldn’t have planned this interaction, but it was a wonderful example of the impact this Behavioral Pediatric Doctor is having on not only our children, but also parents. Feeling seen, feeling heard, and feeling we have strengths to build upon.

“Where you are now is not where you will be down the line. Remember how hard it was to potty train? But you did it!”

Simply reminding parents they have gotten through hard things before, and they will again.

In summary, be okay asking for help. Put on your oxygen mask first… and not just on a crashing airplane, but in life.

Dr. Bauer’s last piece of advice for moms in today’s world?

“You can’t take the mothering out of a mom, but we need to give permission to ourselves to fuel our own tank. I encourage women not to forget who they are while they are also a mother.”



Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you. 

– Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court Justice


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