Author Archives: Mary

Mary Pielenz Hampton (aka RefreshMom) is "midlife mom" to two boys, a train-loving 9 year old and 6 year old superhero-in-the-making. She and her husband Dean will celebrate their 17th anniversary this summer. When she's not shepherding/corralling boys, she's also a friend, writer, at-home-businesswoman, bargain hunter, teacher, lover of tea, chocolate and fancy desserts (especially if made with chocolate). Her heart is looking for God in the smallest moments of life and giving praise back to Him by "turning the daily into devotion."

When Christmas Doesn’t Go According to Plan

This post began as some thoughts I jotted down last year when my husband was a thousand miles away starting a new job (for which we were very thankful) and we had moved out of our house and were staying in a friend’s guest quarters. And here we are, a year later, heading toward another Christmas that isn’t what I’d hoped or planned. Maybe you can relate:

It’s safe to say we’ve never had a Christmas like this one. My husband left to start his new job one thousand miles away. He’ll come back and we’ll end our year loading the rest of our belongings onto a truck.

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Thankful He’s Faithful

Great is thy faithfulness

The hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” really sums up the place of gratitude I come from this year.

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

1) God always shows up–we may not know the exact moment,
but He’s always right on time.

2) No matter how paved and packed our cities may be,
I’m grateful for places of beauty to admire God’s creation.

Yellowstone sky

3) I’m thankful for the daily reminder of the truth,
“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come?

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What I Learned from My “Other” Mother


I have a Godly mom from whom I’ve learned so much about life and faith. But I’ve also been blessed to have a “second mom” who filled in when my mom couldn’t be there and taught me things that only she could.

What started as a friendship with her daughters when my family moved to a new town in my senior year of high school turned into gaining a second family. I don’t have all the photographs, but the snapshots in my memory are filled with pictures of “Mom” Keller.

For a period of time I spent more Thanksgivings with the Keller family than I did my own when I wasn’t able to leave town because of work.

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When God Sends Mixed Messages

“Lord, you know this has been a long season of waiting. It’s hard to look ahead, not knowing what is on the horizon for us. Where are we going to live? What job(s) would you have us do? It’s been such a long season of not knowing how/when our needs will be met.”

We’ve been living in limbo for many months as we await God’s direction on new ministry opportunities/jobs, a new home, and possibly new schools, new friends, new church family, new…everything!

I continued to pray that God would provide in a tangible way as I drove home. I noticed the boys’ VBS CD in the player in the car.

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Hurry Less, Worry Less at Christmas

When Dean and I were dating and first married, our holidays were spent putting hundreds of miles on our cars as we drove to where his family lived for a couple days, journeyed an hour and a half to my family’s Christmas Eve gathering and back, and then spent time with some of his family before making the trek back home.

After we moved to the Northwest for seminary, we added plane travel to the itinerary, often driving an additional five hundred miles or more to make sure we got to visit as many people as we could. There was a lot of hurrying and scurrying, and not much in the way of peace or rest.

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Do You Mean It?

“What does ‘Trick or treat’ mean?” My five-year old is at the stage of asking the meaning behind cliches that most of us rattle off mindlessly.

“Well, it used to be that on Halloween people were saying, ‘Give me a treat or I’ll play a trick on you.’ It doesn’t really mean that anymore and people don’t really play tricks if someone doesn’t give them candy.”

A few days later he asked again, but he finished the story for me, “But people don’t really mean it, right?”

It made me realize how many times we say things without thinking about the real meaning behind them.

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The Importance of Sharing our Stories

Sometimes we wonder if anyone is really paying any attention to our words; if there’s any value in getting them down. There are times Solomon’s words echo through my head, “Of the making of many books, there is no end.” And I wonder if it is a worthy effort to add my own volumes–whether bound with pages or online–to the multitudes still and coming into existence.

God had Moses write down his words to the Israelites. Jesus used stories to communicate God’s truth to his disciples and to the masses who followed Him. And when all was said and done, God gave us a book to remember what He’d done and to reveal Himself to we who live thousands of years later.

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My Heavenly Daddy

“I’m ashamed of my wife! I’m ashamed of my daughters!” My dad’s drunken voice jarred my birthday-eve sleeplessness. It wasn’t the first alcohol-induced tirade I’d overheard, but it was the first that specifically included me.

I remember thinking, “I’m only 8 years old. What I have done to be ashamed of?”

Six weeks later my mom picked up my my sister and I from school in the middle of the day and we were soon on a bus from Michigan to California to “visit” my grandparents. I didn’t know I’d never live in Michigan again.

I didn’t see my dad for the next six years.

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