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The House Fire: One year later

Posted by Mandy Young on August 5, 2015 at 1:15 PM

One year ago today, my dad and I were outside unpacking my car of things I didn’t need so that I could fit my luggage and merchandise in that I was taking with me to North Carolina where I had a speaking engagement. All of the sudden my mom (who had just gotten out of the hospital from having both of her diseased kidneys removed) wobbled to the door, barely able to stand, telling us she could hear an alarm but couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. As Dad hurried inside he could hear the faint alarm and followed it’s sound, but didn’t realize what it was until he reached the door to the stairwell that went up to my room. He opened the door and now the alarm was blaring and black smoke filled the air and rushed downstairs. He ran up the stairs through the smoke to see what was happening and found my entire room full of thick, black smoke and my bed engulfed in flames! He ran back down the stairs yelling to mom that our house was on fire to get outside. I was still in the driveway, not having a clue what was going on and I heard my parents calling for our dog and my mom yelled, “Mandy call 911! The house is on fire!” I was in shock...I didn't know what to do and was in disbelief and wondered if I heard her correctly. She yelled it again! Mandy, call 911 our house is on fire!

I told her my phone was inside and she yelled to dad to grab a phone and they ran out the door (well she wobbled). While mom called 911, Dad told me that it was my room that was on fire and my bed was in flames. Still in shock and disbelief, I turned to look at the side of the house where my bedroom window was and smoke was pouring out of the air conditioning unit. The fire department arrived very quickly, but it felt like it took forever. We were standing in our driveway, mostly in shock, not knowing what to do when one of the firemen yelled, “is everyone out of the house?” We shouted yes! Another said to mom, “mam your house is burning, it’s not safe here, please go across the street.” Dad and I helped her and Bailey, our 16 year old dog, across the street and then dad moved our cars.

We waited outside for hours as they put the fire out and checked for hot spots. There were 5 fire trucks, the fire chief’s car and 4 police cars from what I remember. As neighbors and friends heard what was happening, many came to our side.

I paced our neighbor’s drive way thinking, how did this happen? What did I lose? Could anything be saved? How was I going to get to NC to speak for the two events I had booked for the next day? Do I cancel or do I go? Thoughts were racing through my mind. Five hours passed and finally after standing out in the Georgia heat and humidity in early August, with mosquitoes eating me alive, the fire chief came to talk to us. After he realized it was my room where the fire started, he wanted to discuss the possibilities of what could have started it with me. He asked me numerous questions like where was I when it started and if I had started smoking and caused the fire it was time to confess, crazy stuff like that! I said, sir I don’t smoke, I was outside and I haven’t been upstairs all day and he left.

As the firemen came out they began to take off their suits and helmets and that’s when I realized I knew one of them. I rushed across the street to him and asked, “how bad is it?" He turned to look at me and I could tell he was surprised I was there and said "Mandy, was that your room?" I shook my head yes and his face dropped. He shook his head and said, “Mandy, it doesn't look good". My stomach sank.

Soon after the rescue teams left and gave us the ok, mom, dad and I entered the house to see the damage. It smelled as though someone was burning food on 5 charcoal grills and the smoke was trapped inside. We soon found out that while the fire didn’t reach downstairs, the smoke got into the heating and air system and spread throughout the house and water was pouring out of ceilings and some had fallen in. The stairs leading up to my room were sopping wet and the walls were covered in black soot with water streaks from the fire hose. As I reached the top of my stairs, I turned to see that my entire room looked the exact same as the stairwell. Night was starting to fall and the room was dark since there was no electricity but from what I could see pictures were blown from one side of the room to the other, the far right corner of my room was burned from where the fire started and everything in its way had melted or disappeared. My suitcase that was lying underneath the window and was filled with clothes for my speaking events was destroyed along with everything inside. Both closets that once held my clothes were now filled with empty wire hangers, ashes and threads of their remains. My bed, my beautiful, most comfortable bed in the world, was gone. I looked around and realized, it was all gone. The only possessions I had left was the navy blue sun dress I had on and my flip flop. Later I remembered that thankfully my purse and phone were downstairs, but everything else I owned was gone.

I walked back downstairs and told my parents I needed to book a flight to NC for early the next morning and two of my girlfriends who were still at the house loaded me into a car and we went on a shopping frenzy for essentials and a few select pieces of clothing so I could still go on my trip. At this point I think I was still in shock and running on pure adrenaline. I kept thinking if I stay here there is nothing I can do...but if I go to NC I can work for God and let Him tell my story; that's where He needs me to be tomorrow. My parents thought it was important that I go too, so the plans were laid.

I remember being in Target, I grabbed two dresses, a pair of pajamas, a suitcase, a shoe and then I would be like okay girls I'm done. Then one would say "ummm Mandy don't you need underwear?" I would be like, "OH yeah I'm gonna need that! Okay now I'm done." Then the other would say, “Ummm Mandy don't you need a hair dryer? Shampoo? Soap? And I'd be like " OOOH yeah I'm gonna need that too!" I really don't know what I would have done without my girlfriends that night and them being my brain. With their help I was able to get everything I needed. We came back to the "fire house" and they helped me pack and book my flight. That night I stayed with friends who offered to take me to the airport early the next morning. My parents were able to reach our insurance agent, who happened to be on vacation, and he guided them as to what to do. They checked into a hotel.

The entire night I texted with my mom while lying on my friend’s couch. I couldn't sleep and neither could she. Thoughts flooded my brain and kept me awake, plus I was scared I was going to oversleep and miss my flight, so I think I got an hour of sleep the entire night.

While I was out of town, I got a picture text of a pink bible from a friend and she asked me if it was mine. I told her it was. She said that a guy working at our house that she is friends with had taken a picture and posted it on Facebook. He also described how my room looked, how everything was a complete loss until he walked over to my now burned desk and sitting on top of the ash, soot and water, completely unharmed, dry and undisturbed, was my Bible. Hanging right above the desk I had a large, wrought iron cross. In his picture, the cross itself was not there (it landed 10 feet away during the fire) but instead was an imprint of the cross created by smoke and soot on the wall. I still get chills thinking about it. And that's when it hit me. God's got His hands ALL over this - so I can't be mad. I can't be upset about it when I know God's at work.

After a couple of days of investigating, it was discovered that a faulty IPhone charger (the Apple cord that came with my phone) that was bent, not broken, not frayed or showing wires, just bent, caused the fire. It sparked and a spark hit my pillow on my bed, which caught on fire and the rest is history. And this is where I beg you……If you have a bent or frayed charging cord, PLEASE get rid of it! If you have tape keeping it together, that’s dangerous too! Please throw it away! It's worth the cost for a new one! I do not want you to have to go through what we have. My mom asked the fire investigator if he had ever seen this before and he said they get calls every single day for the same thing! Please learn from this – if your cord is questionable, throw it away!

I'm not going share all of the past 11 ½ months. Yes - we were out of our home for 11 ½ months! Honestly, so much happened, it's simply too much for one post! Let me just say this…we were told in the first week of the aftermath of the fire, this would be a 4 to 8 week job and we would be back in our home. It took 11 ½ months for us to move back in and it still isn't finished! My parents have worked themselves like crazy completing work the contractors were paid to do. And in the last month, we have had to hire an inspector, a contractor, an electrician, and a plumber to come out and finish or correct issues caused by the restoration company we hired. So please, check out your contractor completely. Ask for references, licenses, permits, etc.! Although our contractor came highly recommended, he disappointed many people. The damage done to our property, the work left undone, the bad quality of workmanship, is crazy – but I really can’t say anything more due to some potential legal issues. But I will say this, what has gotten us through this experience is our faith in God and a whole LOT of prayers!

That’s enough about the bad, let me tell you some good things that have happened! The hotel that my parents went to that first night, became our home (which I call the home-tel) for the next 11 ½ months. The question we are asked the most is why didn't you get an apartment or a rental house during those months. And the answer is, when the fire happened my mom had just gotten home from the hospital from having major surgery and my parents asked the insurance rep if we could stay in the hotel for a few days to regroup and get a time frame on the reconstruction. Those few days turned into a few weeks at which point we were told it would only be a few more weeks to possibly a month and we would be home and my parents couldn’t see finding an apartment, renting furniture, etc. for a few weeks. So we stayed. And every few weeks the same thing happened. You’ll be in by Thanksgiving! By Christmas! By the first of the year! By the 3rd week of January! And on and on!

At some point we stopped thinking about leaving and made the hotel our home. The staff became part of the family. We treated our rooms like our home. I’m sure you’re thinking of course you didn’t want to leave you had daily housekeeping. But to tell you the truth it was our home so we cleaned our own rooms , cleaned our bathrooms, changed our sheets and did our own laundry. So I’m pretty sure we were housekeepings favorite guests!

And during the months we spent there we continued living our lives! Alex and I put together a Lovin Life 5k, we celebrated Alex and Chad's 30th birthdays, celebrated mom’s, dad’s, my two nieces and my birthdays, we went to Disney World (thanks to a kind friend ), decorated our hotel rooms for Christmas, I was an extra on the TV show The Originals, worked as a hostess on the KLOVE cruise, I took classes and became a volunteer with the Make-A-Wish foundation, , I traveled to some pretty cool places sharing my life’s story and testimony, flew to VA to see Natasha Bure be crowned the Apple Blossom Queen and met some amazing people, got a whole round of acid shots for my knee, I had a pink stripe put in my hair (twice), Alex had emergency surgery, I flew to Washington DC and was in the hospital for 3 days, I went on an awesome girls getaway with some blogging friends , mom was in the hospital twice, we took a family beach trip, we reunited with old friends and made new ones and the list goes on and on. You see what I did there? I could have gone to an angry, bitter place because talking about the process of the rebuild takes me down an ugly road. Instead I chose to look at all the fun and awesome things that came out of the last year while we weren't in our house. And too, what good would it have done for us to be bitter, complain, or wish for something different? We know that everything is in God’s timing and for His purpose – we are simply here to watch His plan unfold!

I will be posting pictures soon of my new room and all the changes that my parents did downstairs too! It's really coming together nicely and I can't wait to show you. My family and I are going to have an open house/house warming to let those who have been on this journey with us to come and see the house. Which means that I won't be posting pictures until after the reveal - sorry!

Thank you for your love, caring, thoughts, cards, calls, visits, gifts, help and prayers over the last year. Thank you just doesn’t seem big enough! We are still in the depths of putting the house together, paper work and negotiations. So if I could ask, please keep us in your prayers! Thank you for going along this journey with us, we couldn't have gotten through it without you



Making Dreams Come True

Posted by Mandy Young on February 23, 2015 at 1:30 PM

Are you looking to give back to a wonderful cause? Would you? Today I donated to one that touches my heart and I thought I would share it with you just in case you are looking like me.

I'm not sure if you know this about me but I was a "wish" kid when I was younger. So you might be asking yourself, what is a wish kid? Well, let me explain. There are some wonderful organizations that grant wishes for children with life threatening medical conditions. My wish was granted after I lost my leg. What was my wish you ask? Well that's for another blog because this one isn't about me! hehe :) Needless to say these types of organizations have a special place in my heart.

There is a radio station here in Atlanta, Q100, and one week a year while listening to them I am guaranteed to cry. Bert Weiss (Q100's morning show DJ) started his non-profit in 2002 called Bert's Big Adventure. This is an all-expenses-paid, five-day trip to Walt Disney World® for children with chronic and terminal illnesses and their families. They have no idea how amazing their week is going to be! See more at:

Hearing the children's stories and knowing the life they live (because I once lived it too) brings me to tears. When you’re a sick child (or the family of a sick child) you don't get vacations. You see hospital rooms, doctor offices and treatment facilities. Even when you aren't in one of those places you normally don't have the money to go on vacation because of medical bills. Families dream of making their sick and sometimes dying child's wish come true. To make them happy and feel like a normal kid even if it’s only for one day. That's why organizations like Bert's Big Adventure and other wish foundations are so important. Plus with Bert's Big Adventure families get to meet other families who are going through similar things and that gives them a bond. These children get to make new friends who can relate to what the other one is going through. Plus they get to have the time of their little lives at the happiest place on earth!

This week happens to be Bert's Big Adventure week! I can imagine all the fun the families are having! Even though their stories make me cry, they bring a smile to my face and heart too! I noticed through Twitter that they are looking for donations and I couldn't help but give. You can make a donation too! My heart strings were being pulled and there was no way I could say no. And before you ask, no I am not a spokesperson for this organization, nor did they grant my wish. I just wanted to share a cause with you that I feel is worthy of your donation. Maybe you're looking for somewhere to donate or you hadn’t even thought about it, either way, Bert's Big Adventure is worth you taking a look at!

Thank you to Bert Weiss, the morning crew and the volunteers that have been part of Bert's Big Adventure. You are doing something so awesome for these children and their families. It's a memory they will hold tight for the rest of their lives. My wish was 25 years ago and I remember everything about it! You're doing a wonderful thing and I pray that it continues for many years to come!

If you would like to make a donation please visit:

How do you buy shoes? What do you do with your left shoes?

Posted by Mandy Young on February 20, 2015 at 4:30 PM

How do you buy shoes.? What do you do with all your left shoes??- Thanks for your question @jlockett99


Of course I had to answer this one first!!! I get asked this all the time!! I remember one time I was doing an interview on the radio and the dj asked me if I had a dumpster in my backyard just filled with left shoes, and while I got a kick out of his question I wished that my answer would be just as cleaver, but sadly it's not. The answer is.....I just throw them away! This is one reason you'll never see me buying expensive shoes. Anything over $25 is a lot for me to pay on shoes because I know I'm just throwing the other half a way and that's just money down the drain.


When I was younger there was a shoe store that I could go to and they would do one of two things. 1. They would just sell me one shoe half off or 2. They would sell me two rights at full price. Option number two always came in handy when buying tennis shoes because I would have one to wear when I played outside and the other was to keep clean and wear to school! But that store has gone out of business and I haven't found another store willing to make this awesome exchange with me. Until that day comes I'll keep buying cheap shoes.


Now there is a website (I have never been on this site but I have heard about) for amputees where you can find shoe partners. Other amputees who wear the same size shoe as you but the opposite leg. So I could find someone who has their left leg and I could take their rights and they could take my lefts. But I have such a wide foot and I have to try everything on, so I dont want to get shoes over the internet. But I really should look into it so someone could have my rights even if I dont want their lefts! I think I just talked myself into checking in to that.

I'm always looking for more questions to answer!  Feel free to send them to [email protected]

Valentines Day 2015

Posted by Mandy Young on February 18, 2015 at 9:05 AM

If you've read one of my previous Valentine's Day posts you know that I am not a sit at home and cry over a gallon of ice cream while watching chick flicks kind of girl. That's not my idea of enjoying the life that God has given me. Single or taken I'm going to have fun! In years past I have gotten single friends (ladies and gents) together for dinner and/or any other fun activity that the group wanted to do. This year was no exception! I have been friends with Katie since high school. I messaged her on AOL instant messenger thinking that she was someone else and instead of getting embarrassed, a friendship was created. Seventeen years later we are still friends! Morgane and I met at the gym and clicked right away. Even though we've only been friends for about 5 years, it feels like we???ve known each other for much longer. This wonderful two-some are also my Disney escapade buddies! Whenever the three of us are together it's fun, fun, fun! In years past I've always kind of made a plan for the group but this year I hadn't. I sent text messages to Morgane and Katie Valentine's morning to see if they had any ideas for the day. None of us knew what we wanted to do, but we wanted to do something. Then I remembered that Morgane has been wanting to go to the World of Coke!! Perfect! Let's do it and then we???ll have dinner (somewhere low key where all the mushy couples wouldn???t be). I texted the girls and they were all in so we hurried and got ready, got in the car and headed to downtown Atlanta. Once we got off the exit to the World of Coke we noticed that traffic was CRAZY! Yes we understood it was Valentine's Day but there was NO way this was just holiday traffic. We couldn't get into the parking garage for the World of Coke so we tried to find another place to park. This one guy tried to get us to park in his lot for $30!! I told him he was nuts and told Morgane to keep driving! But traffic was out of control and after we realized there were several events going on around the area, we knew we needed a new game plan. So Katie suggested....THE ZOO! So off toward the Zoo we went. But it was a bit chilly and very windy, so I wasn't too keen on the idea and right as we pulled into the parking lot it hit me....Girls, the circus is in town, let's go to the circus! They were all in! We headed back toward the crazy traffic and once there, we sat!! HA! I thought Katie was going to lose her mind (traffic makes her nervous and a bit, well, crazy). But even sitting in traffic we told stories, laughed and giggled! Morgane even snort laughed for the very first time in life! HeHe! We finally made it to the arena, traffic was insane and I got yelled at for not bringing my handi-tag (I've really gotta start putting that thing in my purse!). Once at the gate we realized the show had started 30 minutes earlier, but they let us in anyway and we had great seats! None of us had been to the circus since we were little so this was something different and fun! We ate ourselves into a sugar coma with snow cones and cotton candy but added in a little salt with popcorn; while we watched the amazing acrobats, elephants, trapeze artists, dogs, goats, llamas, HUGE pigs, fire performers, kangaroos and so much more!! We all agreed we were so glad that we went! After the circus we luckily didn't hit too much traffic like we thought we would. Which was a good thing because our tummies were growling and we needed to find some actual food! We went to one of our Atlanta favorites Tin Lizzy's! It's a Mexican Cantina and If you know me, you know that Mexican food is the way to my heart (hehe), my Valentine's knew what I wanted! We stuffed ourselves with fried pickles, cheese dip, salsa and tacos! We even got lucky with no waiting to sit! And of course over dinner we discussed our next Disney adventure! So, you see, even if you are single on Valentine's Day you don't have to hate the day. The day is what you make it. If you want to wallow in sadness that's what you have chosen to do. But I have realized that this day is not about just loving one person. God's greatest commandment to us is to LOVE. So that's what I do. I love love. I love my life. I love the people in my life. Therefore I celebrate every day. I hope that I tell the people in my life that I love them more than just one day. But just because I'm single doesn't mean that I can't enjoy or love this holiday. I make the best and most of it. At this point a boy would just mess up my normal fun Valentine's Day plans! So until the day comes where a boy messes that all up for me (hehe), I will enjoy every Valentine's Day with the people in my life I love; whether that's my friends or my family. I had a fun filled Valentine's Day, I hope you did too!

KLOVE Cruise 2015

Posted by Mandy Young on February 15, 2015 at 2:25 PM

It's been a month since my Premier KLOVE cruise and I think I'm over my post cruise blues to finally

talk about it! It was such an awesome week! My friend Brandi and I were asked to be part of the

Premier Hospitality crew for the KLOVE Music Cruise sailing from Miami to the Bahamas and a private

island too!

After our meeting and instructions, our first job started right away! We welcomed passengers as they

boarded the ship, answered questions, pointed them in the right direction of where they wanted to go

and even registered guests for next year’s cruise!

Our week was spent on The MSC Divina. I had never cruised with this line before but it was great. The

Divina is only two years old and she's beautiful! MSC is an Italian cruise line offering a full course dining

room, an authentic pizzeria and gelato stand! And yes, I tried them all!

Our first day on board was mostly getting everyone acquainted to the Divina. You know, just trying to

figure out where to eat, sleep, buy merchandise and find the concert locations. By the time everyone

boarded it was time for early dinner or the first concert! Every night there were two concerts and two

dinner times. If you had early dinner you went to the later concert, if you had late dinner you went to

the early concert. Either way it was the same concert!

Our first night For King and Country and Building 429 performed. I had seen For King and Country at the

KLOVE awards this past summer and I loved them! Their performance was my favorite of the night so I

couldn't wait to see them again! They did not disappoint! Don't get me wrong Building 429 was great

but if you have a chance to see FKAC, go see them!

The next morning we docked in Freeport. Brandi and I got off the boat to visit the straw market to buy

little keepsakes for our families back home. What was supposed to be a rainy day ended up being

beautiful and sunny! After our time on land we decided to go back to the ship, find our friends and lay

out by the pool on the top deck. It was so enjoyable. But our time was cut short because we had to get

dressed for dinner and head to that night’s concert. Colton Dixon and Casting Crowns were about to

take us to church! I tell you what those American Idol kids can sing; Colton rocked the house! Casting

Crowns is an all-time favorite group of mine too! Not only because they are amazing, but maybe

because I go to church with them and have just gotten to know them over the years. Later that night

registration opened for the 2016 KLOVE cruise! And The Blue Angels, our self-named group, were hard

at work booking rooms for next year!

Thursday we docked in Nassau, Bahamas. Some of the Blue Angels and I decided to take a water taxi

over to the Atlantis Resort. On our way we saw one of our cruisers in a wheelchair sitting by himself.

We asked if he wanted to join us for the day and he happily accepted. Little did poor Peter know that

we were going to push him all over kingdom come! He probably regretted accepting our invitation after

the first 10 minutes! But everyone really did have so much fun on our little adventure that day.

Once back on the Divina is was time for showers. Dinner and the nightly entertainment was just around

the corner. That night we saw Chris August (who I might have a little crush on) and Mandisa! It was a

little more of a chill night with Chris August, which honestly was very welcomed (I was exhausted!). But then we were jumping up and down and dancing with Mandisa. After Mandisa’s concert, we stayed to

rock out with Sanctus Real. Who by the way were amazing!

Friday we dropped our anchor at Great Stirrup Kay, the cruise lines private island. It was so pretty. The

weather was a little windy and gray but we didn’t care. We sat on the beach wrapped in towels because

it was a little chilly, but we didn’t care, we were still on the beach! I walked down to the water’s edge to

put my foot in the crystal blue ocean and right as my toes touched the water, a man’s voice came

through a speaker telling us we had to clear the island and get back on our boat, a storm was coming in

and we had to leave early. Bummer! But once everyone was back on the boat, The Blue Angels went to

work booking next year’s cruise!

Evening came and it was time for our last night of concerts! Music provided by Plumb and the

Newsboys! Wow! They were awesome!!! Then back to work we went for our last shift! After turning

in our walkie talkies we headed up to the pool deck to hear the bon voyage concert! It was sad to know

it was all coming to end!

I told you about the amazing concerts that our schedules allowed us to see, but we also had wonderful

speakers like Bob Goeff and Lysa Terkhurst who led devotionals. Singers Tim Timmons and Byron

Chambers were great, there was the amazing painter Jared Emerson, a meet and greet with Bob and

Larry from Veggie tales, people were baptized in the hot tub, couples got engaged, precious Make A

Wish families on board, and so much more!!

Next year is going to be awesome too!! The KLOVE Cruise will be on the MSC Divina again! Cruising

January 25-30, 2016 going to Montego Bay, Jamaica, Georgetown and the Cayman Islands. The lineup

for next year.....are you ready for this?!?! Chris Tomlin, Skillet, Matthew West, MercyMe, Crowder, Kari

Jobe, Sidewalk Prophets, Francesca Battistelli, Tenth Avenue North, Citizens Way, Danny Gokey, Moriah

Peters and Unspoken! It's going to be amazing! If you want more information on how to sail next year,

visit their website!

Happy Sailing!

Keep It Shut

Posted by Mandy Young on January 21, 2015 at 1:10 PM

I love sharing new material with you guys! Today it’s a new Bible Study called "Keep It Shut" by Karen Ehman. This amazing author happens to be a friend of mine. But don't think just because she's a friend is the reason I'm telling you about this study; it's the subject itself! As women we tend to open our mouths too much, too little or too often. I'm sure at some point in all of our lives our mouths have gotten us in trouble. This study is teaching us how to think before we speak, controlling our tongues and even conscience when expressing our social media thoughts. I was lucky enough to interview Mrs. Keep It Shut herself! Here's a little of what she wanted to share with you about her newest study!

Mandy: What inspired you to write "Keep It Shut"?

Karen: Almost 3 decades of my mouth getting me in trouble! Seriously. It is the old case of a strength being carried to an extreme, which now becomes a weakness. I love to talk. However, if left unchecked, my mouth can also be up in a mess of trouble.

Mandy: What is the #1 lesson you want your readers to learn with this book?

Karen: To learn to engage their brain before they open their mouth. To pause before they pounce. To stop saying things that are permanently painful just because we are temporarily ticked off.

Mandy: I believe our mouths get us all in trouble at some point in our lives.....where do you think we get ourselves in the most trouble?

Karen: Usually with those who are closest to us. Mostly our family. Somehow we can hold it together for strangers or even for friends, but we often let loose on those we love the most. Familiarity does breed contempt. It is true. We need to learn to treat our family members as well as we treat others when it comes to what we say.

Mandy: I know Keep It Shut is filled with Biblical teachings and verses for us to cling to, but is there one that you could share with us now to teach us to watch our tongues before and as we read this little gem?

Karen: I think this verse is one of my favorite: Proverbs 18:12 “Fools find no pleasure in understanding

but delight in airing their own opinions.” I don't want to be thought of as a fool. Therefore, sometimes I just need to keep it shut!

Mandy: Does this book have a Bible Study? And can we buy any or all of it now?

Karen: Yes! A six-week DVD study with a Bible study workbook that is also out and ready for group or individual use. The links are copied below.



DVD with one Bible study workbook:

Single Bible study workbooks:

Oh and how about a bonus question?

Mandy: Who do you love more, me or Candace Cameron Bure?? hehe :)

Karen: I refuse to answer on the grounds that either way I answer, I might get clobbered with a crutch or kicked cha-cha style by a TV star.

Even though she chickened out of the last question; I can’t wait to do this study!! I hope that you are excited about it too! If you or your bible study group decides to partake in Keep It Shut let us know what you think!!

Be sure to follow Karen on Facebook, Instagram: KarenEhman and Twitter: karen_ehman

Farewell 2014

Posted by Mandy Young on January 3, 2015 at 10:55 AM

Well we have said goodbye to 2014!!  Honestly I'm a little glad to have this year come to a close.  Its been a very life changing year for me; good and bad but also learning and growing.  So I thought for my last blog for 2014 I would choose some highlights to share with you.

1. I became Pandy (aunt) for the second time.  My sister and brother in law welcomed another baby girl into their little family! I have two precious, little nieces who I'm obsessed with.  They are both getting so big it just kills me.  I want them to stay little!  Being an aunt is one of the best things in the world.  I really don't know if I could love them more if they were my own (even though I pretend now that they are mine hehe).  Plus the family and I got to take the two cuties to Disney World this year!  And I will quote Cha and agree with her completely when she said "BEST DAY EVER!"

2. One really fun event  I got to do was travel to L.A. and watch my friend dance her way toward the mirror ball trophy on Dancing with the Stars!!  I'm sure that everyone who follows me on social media was ready for Candace's season on DWTS to be over since I was begging everyone to vote every week.  DWTS is a show that my family and I have always watched and we dreamed that CCB would one day compete in the ballroom.  Finally this year it happened!  They started something new this year - Disney night!  Well, I had to go to that!  I had planned to go the next week but once I found out it was Disney week I bumped my trip up to be part of this epic night!  Boy was it fun!!!  It was truly a once in a life time experience.  Candace danced as Ariel, one of my all-time favorite princesses and she was amazing!!  I was so proud of her.  During my trip I watched her perform on ballroom night and then went watch she and Mark practice!  While at the studio I met Mark Ballas, Derek Hough, Amy Purdy, Danica McKellar, and Val Chmerkovskiy.  It was seriously so surreal.  And I'm proud to say that Candace Cameron Bure danced her way to 3rd place!!!  I was so stinkin proud of her!!

3. If you follow me on social media or read my blog you know that last year my mom had a kidney transplant.  And praises to God, my dad was a perfect match to be her donor.  2013 was filled with hospital stays for both my parents due to many complications from the transplant.  Dad has had a good year, but unfortunately 2014 wasn't that much different than 2013 for mom.  It seemed like we were going back and forth to the ER and her being admitted a lot in the spring and summer due to infections.  In July her doctors realized that her old kidneys (that no longer worked) were causing the infections and they had to be removed.  On July 22nd the kidney removal took place.  A normal kidney weighs about 4-6 oz. - mom's diseased kidneys weighed over 30 lbs!!!  They each were the size of a football and were massively infected.  No wonder they were making her sick.  Plus, we were also dealing with her anti-rejection medications (that she has to be on for the rest of her life) that cause her so many problems, including diabetes and skin cancer.  She has been through so much (with a smile on her face, I wonder where I get it from hehe) I'm praying that 2015 is a healthy and amazing year for her!

4. I would have to say the most life changing event of 2014 happened two weeks to the day after  mom's surgery, on August 5th.....our house fire.  My cell phone cord caught on fire which lit my bed a blaze and resulted in me lose everything, literally everything, except the dress I had on and flip flop that was on my foot.  Thank God we were able to get out of the house and weren't harmed.  My parents and I have been living in a hotel for 5 months while construction is under way at our house.  We aren't quite sure when we will be back in our house, but oddly enough the hotel has become like our home.  I even call it the home-tel.  I'm going to share more about life after the fire in a future blog, maybe once we are back in the house.  But I want to warn you, if you have a cell phone charger that is bent or frayed (especially if you are keeping it together with duct tape) please throw it away!!  Spend the money on a new one; I promise it's worth it!  Mine was an actual iPhone charger (not a knock off) and it was only bent. I had no idea it could do the damage that it did!

Yes there were many more things (good and bad) that happened in 2014 but these are the ones that impacted our lives and that I wanted to share with you.  I'm so looking forward to 2015.  I'm staying optimistic with my head held high and keeping my focus on the path where God wants me. 


National Day of Kindness

Posted by Mandy Young on November 18, 2014 at 9:05 AM

Thursday of last week was National Day of Kindness (NDK). I had no idea this day even existed; I don’t know why I didn't, I mean there is a National Day for just about everything! But not knowing that it was NDK I was searching through my Facebook news feed and stumbled upon a video that was so super sweet. This little girl wanted to buy a cake but being on a fixed budget the grandmother couldn't afford it. The man behind them in line paid for the cake because when he was a little boy he wanted to pick out his own birthday cake but they couldn't afford it, but a man overheard the conversation and bought the boy the cake he wanted. Now he wanted to pay that forward and handed the little girl the cake. In the next scene the little girl is giving her wheel chair bound grandfather the cake for his birthday and long story short, it was the grandfather that had bought the little boys birthday cake years ago and now he was getting a cake back in return when he didn't have the money. I did not describe this little commercial in the heart tugging way that it is displayed because I was in tears and it really hit home to me and I had this idea that I wanted to do a random act of kindness. And then later on finding out it was NDK I knew I wanted to do something!

There is a radio station here in Atlanta that has Kindness Mondays (I'm not sure if that's really what it's called but I'm going to call it that). They have a letter that you can print off that says something to the effect of I just wanted to bless you today and hopefully you can pay it forward. So as I'm sitting at the car dealership getting my oil changed, my stomach started to growl. I thought, I'm going to pull through somewhere and get something to eat and pay for the car behind me! I have always wanted to do that but never have so I decided today would be the day! I head over to Chick-fil-a and remembering that their lines are usually long, I was going to write my sweet pay it forward letter for the car behind me while I waited in line. But wouldn't you know it, there was no line today nor did I have anything to write on in my car (well except for a Sonic napkin but I couldn't hand that to a Chick-fil-a employee!). I paid for my food and then told the girl working the drive thru that I wanted to pay for the car behind me as well. She happily slid the card twice and handed me the receipts and then said ma'am your order isn't completely ready could you please pull forward and we will bring it out to your car. Of course I agreed but I didn't want to. I wanted to be the anonymous person who bought lunch for the car behind me and now it looks like I'm waiting to see what happens!! But since I had to wait, I did watch the exchange happening in my rear view mirror. All the sudden the car who I had paid for was pulling off to leave and I didn't want it to look like I was waiting, so I quickly grabbed my phone and acted as though I wasn't paying attention but I can see the bright red car sitting to my right out of the corner of my eye. I lifted my head, looked over and the driver had her window down saying thank you over and over again. I rolled down my window and said I just wanted to bless you today with a random act of kindness, I hope you enjoy it. She must have said thank you four more times before she pulled away. And this is when my eyes filled up with tears. This woman seemed so thankful for just that tiny offering I was willing to give and I was so happy that I was able to do that for her. Even though I was so embarrassed that I was still there when she pulled off making it look like I wanted the thank you, but that wasn't it at all. I just wanted to do something nice for someone and bless someone’s day because I know many of my days have been blessed by others. But now I'm glad I was there and got to see the appreciation of this woman and it truly inspired me to do this more often. I might even create my own little Pay It Forward cards and keep them on me for moments just like today!

Have you ever paid it forward? Has someone shown an act of kindness to you? I would love to hear your stories!


Messy Beautiful Love

Posted by Mandy Young on September 16, 2014 at 8:55 AM

I love getting little surprises in the mail! Being an adult and going to the mail box just isn't fun anymore; it's usually full of bills or junk mail. But, sometimes you walk to the box and surprise! There's a little something from someone you love! This happened to me the other day.

On this particular day I received a large manila envelope. I ripped it open to see what was inside. To my surprise it was a new book by Darlene Schacht (! It's not even on the shelves yet and here it is in my mailbox! I knew my friend had been working on a book, but it was a book on marriage and I couldn’t imagine her sending me that one. Had she been writing two books at one time? So I read the title, Messy Beautiful Love (Home and redemption for real life marriages); nope this is the book that she has been working on. So why? Why, would she send me a book on marriage and want my opinion on it? Ummm hello, I'm SINGLE!

Still confused I decide that I will do what I have been asked to do and read her book and give her my opinion. Over the next couple of days I dove in to this book and finished it within three days. Now just let me tell you; if you know me at all you know I am NOT an avid reader especially reading something so quickly. I so enjoyed this book; this book on marriage. I'm just going to highlight my favorite three things!

1. Breaking down love/marriage from 1 Cor. 13:4-8 - This has to be one of the most popular and traditional verses used in a wedding ceremony. And honestly I think we have all heard it so much that we kind of overlook it instead of live it. But Chapter 4 does just that! It breaks down all of the qualities that love is in God's eyes and then explains how to live that throughout your marriage. For example when it talks about: Love Always Protects. The advice that she gives is "Prayer is a powerful tool in any marriage, but too often it's considered a last resort." After this she explains what she means by that. I would explain it to you but I'm not giving away her bits of information because you need to read about it all for yourself!

2. Explaining the true Biblical explanation of submission - My sweet friend Candace Cameron Bure has been in the media multiple times because of her views on being a submissive wife. In 2014 the definition of submission seems to have changed since Biblical times. We think this word means to be walked on, beaten up and not having a voice; or at least from comments on Candace's blogs and during interviews, it seems to be what they think of when they hear the term submissive wife. That's not at all what this means and chapters 6 & 9 explain the TRUE definition of being a submissive wife. Love it!

3. The Proverbs 31 Woman - In chapter 14 we get a break down of the Proverbs 31 woman. When reading about the Proverbs 31 woman I think we all think instantly, who in the world can be that perfect?!?! The only person comparable, but more perfect, was Jesus! Here's the thing we know; we are never going to be perfect. But in this chapter she breaks down the Proverbs 31 woman and then explains how we can incorporate her characteristics into our own lives and be more like her. Not her, but more like her.

While reading the book I could relate to it even though I'm not married. I feel like sometimes when people are explaining or giving advice on marriage these tips can also work with relationships in general. Between a friend, a sibling, a parent or even to a stranger. By teaching us how to be a better person in general. But also while reading this book I knew that Darlene sent it to me knowing that I was single and just wanted me to have a copy; but I also realized I received it because of God. He wants me to have this book to teach me what a Godly wife He wants and asks me to be. How awesome is that? I'm getting to do research and learn how to be a Godly wife before I'm even married!

One of my life mottos is "I'd rather be proactive than reactive". By reading this book I am being proactive in my marriage before I even have a boyfriend that I'm interested in marrying. HA-HA! Sounds silly but I think it's ingenious! I remember when the movie Fireproof came out. I decided that when I needed a wedding gift, I would make a Fireproof inspired basket filled with the movie, the Love Dare devotional, a blanket, popcorn, movie candy, drinks for a movie night basket. I wouldn't give this gift to couples because I felt they were going to fail, but because I wanted them to be prepared for any problems that could arise. Every marriage is going to have bumps in the road so you might as well be prepared!

I recommend this book to anyone single or married. Single girls, start doing the research now for the help meet that you were designed to be. Married women need it too. While reading, I could envision people that it might help because the advice could guide them to happier marriages and also make them happier with themselves. You ask, how could they be happier with themselves because of a marriage book. Because when you are in the center of God's will and becoming the person that He has designed you to be, His joy and other fruits of the Spirit fill you.

So ladies I'm giving this book 2 thumbs up! And guess what? Messy Beautiful Love releases today so you don’t have to wait to buy your copy!!! And as a bonus, the publishers have been awesome enough to let me give away two copies! So ladies, single or married, if you write a comment on this post you will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of your very own! I will draw the winners on Friday! Good luck!

Don’t want to wait? Buy your copy here:  Plus there is a free chapter on this site too!! 


Our House Fire

Posted by Mandy Young on September 8, 2014 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (1)

One month ago this week I was unloading my car just to load it again. I was heading to North Carolina to speak for two events and I was excited. This was going to be a little road trip with my sister and my nieces. As my dad is helping me take out my wheel chair my mom came to the front door of our house and yelled outside to us that there was an alarm going off. Dad ran inside to see what was going on. Not really concerned I kept cleaning out my car thinking that dad would be back in a second to help me finish. All of the sudden my mom, dad and dog came rushing out the front door. My mom just kept yelling, "call 911 our house is on fire!" A bit confused I asked "What? Our house is on fire?" She said, ‘yes, your room is on fire!” “Your dad ran to the stairs where the smoke alarm was going off and your stair well is filled with smoke.” Dad went upstairs to see what was going on and saw that my bed was engulfed in flames. Then he rushed back down the stairs to get my mom (who was just released from the hospital) and our dog out of the house. What seemed like forever but was really only five minutes, 5 fire trucks, 2 additional fire vehicles, 2 police cars and an ambulance were at our house.

Smoke began to billow from the upstairs window and I just stood there in shock not knowing what to do. All I had ever been taught about a fire was to stop, drop and roll. But you only use that if you’re personally on fire. I wasn’t, but my entire life of “stuff” was and they don't teach you what to do if that happens. Now I have to admit that I am a bit of a hoarder. I keep just about everything; especially if it has sentimental value. It drives my parents and sister crazy but I can't help it. And now all of those years of memories were literally going up in smoke.

The fire fighters were there for about 5 hours. As soon as they left, two girl friends and I headed to Target. I had two speaking engagements to get to and I had to get stuff to take. What I began to realize is that I had nothing. Everything was gone. We shopped for everything that I would need for my 24 hour trip. I bought two dresses (one for each event), a tooth brush, a pair of pajamas and I thought I was done. But then one of the girls would remind me, Mandy, you need underwear! Oops, oh yeah! Then I would think I was done again and I would hear Hey Mandy, you need shampoo and hair brushes. Ooooh yeah! I seriously had to buy everything including a bag to pack it all in. As soon as I got back to the house to pack my bag and book a flight and could take a breath, I ventured up to my room. I wasn’t sure what to expect. The walls were stained with the look of charcoal. The entire house smelled as though someone had set up a grill in our living room and burned whatever it was cooking. The carpet was soggy and water logged. As I got to the top of my stairs and looked around, it was just dark. The entire room was ruined. My bed was burnt to a crisp. It honestly felt a little eerie. I just turned around and walked back downstairs. That night I stayed with a friend while mom and dad started staying at our new home, the hotel.

The night of the fire I only got about 3o minutes of sleep. I tossed and turned and couldn't go to sleep. The next morning I flew to NC. And I tell you what, God always puts you where you need to be. He knew months ago that I was going to face this little life lemon and put me with a church and fund raiser that He knew I was going to need at that moment. The trip to NC was totally worth it and I'm so glad that I went. The next morning (so not even 48 hours after the fire) I woke up to a text message from one of the Bella’s (my bible study girls). In that text message was a picture of a Bible and she asked it if was mine. I told her it was. This guy that she went to school with was working with the crew that was gutting my room and he posted a picture of my Bible. The caption with the picture said: "So I went to a fire job today. Upon inspection I found the bonus room to be a total loss but the absolute only thing that was not touched at all was this Bible that is on a charred up night stand. On the wall behind it was a cross looking soot stain on the wall! This is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. If this isn't proof for troubled people I don't know what is." My whole room was charred and the only thing that was untouched was my amazing is that!?!? And then the cross soot stain on the wall behind the Bible - if that doesn't tell you that God was all over this I don't know what does!

How can I be sad about losing all of my belongings when I know that my family and I got out okay and that God is all over this? I can't be upset when it's that apparent. While I was in NC I kept thinking about how this is just stuff. That this isn't what is important in life.

While lying in bed playing on my phone I clicked my Bible app to give me my verse of the day and it said, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. -Colossians 3:1-2 That was just more confirmation to me. God has this so you don't need to worry! And I've really had a calmness and peace about the whole thing.

A couple of days later we found out that the cause of the fire was my slightly bent, iPhone 5 charger. We’ve learned that IPhone chargers have a reputation for catching on fire so BEWARE! IPhone chargers are also known to fray or bend. Mine was just slightly bent and that's what did it! I was one of those girls that said, it will never happen to me. Well it did! I want you to learn from my mistake and I pray that none of you have to go through what we are right now. Mine was an actual Apple iPhone charger; I'm starting to think that off name brands aren't so bad! So, please check your cords and if they have a fray or bend in/on them please toss them!

We are hotel living right now and honestly it's not too bad. With our new location, we are kind of enjoying living in the middle of everything. But, please keep my family in your prayers. Mom is still recovering from her kidney removal surgery (which was just 2 weeks before the fire happened). Please pray that everything runs smoothly for the renovations. The house has been sitting with nothing done to it for 3 weeks because of Insurance and mortgage paperwork, but we’re praying that's about to change. For those of you that knew about the fire, thank you for your prayers, notes, visits and kind words. We really appreciate each of you!

It may be Christmas, but be on the lookout for my new room reveal!!