Be strong. Protect the Weak. Love Everyone. ™

How Adoption Taught Me to Be.Strong 

kristi hayes2 Comments

How Adoption Taught Me to Be.Strong

By Adrian Collins

I used to think strength was defined by moms who did it all without breaking a sweat. Moms who managed a household of babies, preschoolers and teenagers with airbrushed makeup and beach-wave tousled hair. Moms who made fluffy, homemade gluten-free pancakes and still found the energy to hit the gym every day. Moms who drove around in a crumb-free, vacuumed car.

I used to think strength meant having an advantage over another; something that made me stand out in a crowd by way of a particular talent or skillset. But years later, after making an adoption plan for my birth daughter, having three biological sons and adopting another, I now believe strength has less to do with my overall abilities, and more to do with three characteristics: Sacrifice, Courage and Authenticity.

Sacrifice —“A surrender of something for the sake of something else”

I learned sacrifice was a outpouring of strength as I swaddled my infant daughter one last time before she was permanently placed in the arms of her adoptive family. In those final moments, I thought my heart might shatter. It took every ounce of strength I could muster to give up my dreams of becoming a mom, for the best interest of my child.

I learned I was pregnant during my junior year of college. Holding a positive pregnancy test in my hand, I recoiled in fear and shame. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn for help. I held several leadership positions at the Christian university I attended, was a straight-A student and was in a committed relationship. Like many girls my age, I’d strived for perfection in every facet of life. An unplanned pregnancy was not part of my meticulously planned life.

When I announced the news to my parents, they were silent and stunned. Finally, my mom said, “Have you considered adoption?” Her question stung at first. I’d always wanted to be a mom and couldn’t imagine putting my own child into the arms of another. But the word “adoption” lingered.

Afraid of being released from my leadership positions, I grabbed a baggy t-shirt, a pair of leggings and an old sweatshirt that I wrapped around my waist to cover my growing baby bump. I’d hide my pregnancy for five long months, the entire Spring semester. Whenever I felt my unborn child stirring in my womb, I’d cradle my belly and whisper, “I love you little one,” and dreamed about life as mom. Over time, those dreams faded and instead morphed into heavy tears with the realization that I wasn’t prepared to be a parent. At the time, I wasn’t capable of giving my baby everything she deserved. In the end, my boyfriend and I made the heart wrenching decision to move forward with an adoption plan.

Leaving the hospital without my baby girl was the single hardest thing I’ve ever done. In the end, I laid aside my own dreams so that my little girl could have the chance to achieve hers. Through adoption I learned that sometimes the right decision, is also the most painful one.

Moms are the most sacrificial creatures on the planet. We sacrifice our time, our energy and finances to enhance the lives of our children. We put our dreams on hold for the sake of our little ones. At times, we may not feel rewarded for our sacrifice. We may even feel invisible. But know this—you are doing an amazing work in the lives of your children. Every tear you wipe, every hard conversation you have, every dream you help come true makes a lasting impression on the heart of your child.

Courage—“a moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand fear or difficulty”

It took courage I didn’t know I had to drive away from the hospital without my baby and head back to college to finish my degree. It took courage to step foot on campus amongst narrowed eyes of judgement and gossip talk that stripped my confidence on a daily basis. It took courage to forge ahead without my daughter, and trust that she was in God’s hands. It took courage to persevere when all I wanted to do was crumble in a heap.

There were times that I didn’t want to be courageous at all. Soon, I’d learn that courage can take us to places we’d never imagine.

A few months after I graduated from college, I married my high-school sweetheart, the father of my birth daughter, in a winter ceremony as snowflakes fell outside the church. Over the years, we had three boys and I cherished being a mom to each one of them.  Because of my adoption experience, I wanted to invest in the lives of other birth mothers and support them through the adoption process. I met one-on-one with young women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and listened as they shared their heart and shed tears over their difficult circumstance. At the heart of every one of their stories was one similar theme—an amazing love for their unborn child.

During one of these meetings, my life was altered forever. I was asked by one of the birth mothers to adopt her baby boy.

I pondered her offer, searching for the right response. I could’ve told her I needed more time, maybe months, to think about it before I could get back to her. I could’ve laughed in her face and told her she’d picked the wrong person for the job. I could’ve announced I wasn’t up for the task. But when I looked into her longing eyes, full of want for a loving home for her unborn child, I found the courage to simply say, “Yes.”

Saying “yes” didn’t come without fears. When I agreed to adopt, I dwelt on all the things that could go wrong. I wondered, How will I handle raising four boys? What if I didn’t bond with my newly adopted child? What if I wasn’t good enough as a mom? When left alone with my fears, I trembled with doubt. But love and courage swallowed up those fears. As I held my newly adopted son in my arms, I learned to set aside my fears and embrace the journey ahead.

Moms, it takes courage to forge ahead when we are at our weakest. It takes courage to continue along your journey of motherhood, especially when it feels messy, chaotic or isolating. Every season of parenting comes with great joys and sorrows. Embrace new experiences that weren’t part of your original plan. And when the time is right, take what knowledge you’ve gained to help another through their journey.

Authenticity—“True to one’s own personality, spirit, or character”

Currently, I’m managing a house of preteen and teenage boys, none of which are fully trained to put down the toilet seat or pick up their underwear from the floor. I homeschool, but still cringe at their penmanship and spelling skills. I strive to maintain a healthy relationship between my adopted son and his birth mom. I’ve reconnected with my birth daughter and am blessed by her presence in my life.

While I’ve embraced the changing dynamics in our household, it hasn’t been without challenges. I spent countless years sprinting from one child to the next trying to manage their differing needs with flawless ease. By the end of most days, I’d find myself frazzled and locked in my bathroom, using a hand towel to soak up my tears of perceived failure. I wanted my house to look perfect, my kids to be happy and my life to appear stress-free. Eventually, I learned to dissolve my perfectionist attitudes and create a new mantra—my kids need an authentic mom to lead them into a healthy adulthood. I began to wonder what message I was sending to my five children by trying to make everything in their lives appear perfect. How would my children ever learn to accept the imperfections in themselves and others, when I couldn’t accept my own?

Learning to accept my imperfections as a mother is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. It’s difficult to stare at my flaws day after day, with every one of my kids, and still find the strength to parent every day. Maybe I won’t ever be the Gilmore Girls-esque mom and know the right thing to say in every difficult situation. Maybe I’m not the always attentive adoptive mom. I can’t erase my kids’ struggles or hardships. I can only be my best authentic self, and use my God-given personality and experiences to guide my children to become their authentic selves.

To all the moms everywhere—you are valued, loved and cherished beyond measure.





The letter I would have written to myself as a new mom.....

kristi hayesComment

Dear new mom trying to get her pre-baby-body-back and figuring out all the things, 

If I could have had someone tell me a few things after I had Holden, our first child it would have made things a lot easier for me. I think if someone would have said, "Hey, just to let you know, after you have your kid, you will not have your flat stomach back, you will most definitely look 6-months pregnant for awhile. People will ask you when you are due, even as you carry your newborn in a sling on your chest. It's ridiculous, but don't be offended. (I mean, it's ok to be a little offended…)

And hey, your 9 months of your pregnancy diet being EVERYTHING cheese will not go away the second that baby comes out. (I am talking EVERYTHING cheese. Like the orange baseball-game-concession-stand cheese.)

Nacho cheese

Mac and cheese

The more orange and fake the better.  

You will be out of shape, and you will cry every time you dare to put on pre-pregnancy jeans, if you can even remember where you put them.

You will feel overwhelmed and defeated most days.

Most days you will be happy to get a shower before you have to rush to breastfeed for the 100,930 time. You will clean up projectile spit-up multiple times, and when you finally rock the never-sleeping-baby to sleep, the DOOR BELL will RING! (Because the mailman or UPS guy, or Amazon Fresh delivery will never EVER see the cute little stork sign that says: "BABY IS SLEEPING!")

I remember having two little ones under the age of 3. Those were some of my hardest days to date. I felt alone and overwhelmed. I did not feel productive and was irritated most days.  I was basically in survival mode. I then remember the desperation of wanting to be back to my "old self."

I literally stared at my awesome pre-preggers jeans in my closet, wishing them to jump over my post-baby-thighs each day.

Provoking them: "Come on you can do it" I would say to myself, maybe if I just wiggle on the ground for a bit. “I must have just washed and dried these on high 9 months ago, and they shrunk.”

But it didn't happen.

I would think TODAY IS THE DAY, but today was NOT the day, for many months, even years. So I teetered in between un-buttoning regular pants and having them sit half-way on my buttocks with a long shirt covering them, or wearing maternity pants with an elastic waistband. And the summer is worse. Oh, the SUMMER! That is a post all in itself.

But lo and behind one day like a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, the jeans jumped over my thighs. And one day I packed away my maternity clothes, and one day I felt kind of normal. But it took a lot longer then I had expected because I had no idea what I was doing. And that is just the physical part that plays into the big bag of emotions we now have going on. Thank you crazy hormones.

As I look back, here are some things I would tell my post-pregnancy frazzled self:

Dear Kristi,


Some days will just suck. (I tell my kids not to say this word, but do has mommy says, not as mommy does).

You will have all intention of getting in your workout, which really just means walking up the stairs a couple of times before you have lost your breath. You will be discouraged, because your post-baby body will look, feel, and act, way DIFFERENT for awhile. Embrace the Suck, don't let it defeat you before you even start!


It will be ok. You will get through this, it is just a season. And once you are over it, you may have another baby, but you will know what to expect. It is just a season. It is just a season. This phrase gets me through most of them. Seasons come and go. Remember this is not forever. Your kids will be old enough to buckle their own seatbelt, and put their own clothes on, and take their own baths, and you will do a hallelujah dance. 


Yes, by the grace of God your baby and toddler might be on the same nap schedule for the day, and you are in heaven, because you have 30 minutes to get some exercise in, or read a book, or do something for you, but right when you are about to turn the workout DVD on, or get your weights set up, you hear the supposed-to-be-sleeping baby wailing in the monitor! Don't give up...Adapt and Overcome. Do some squats with the baby in your arms, make funny faces while you are doing push-ups, to make them laugh. It might not look like what you had planned, but it is something.

4. FIND HELP (this should probably be #1)

Whether it is someone who can watch the kids for 30 minutes a day, so you can stay sane,  a workout group who is going through the same thing, a friend who will sit in the hard with you, or a therapist to help with depression, find HELP. Don't sit in isolation, because I guarantee there is a mom right down the street feeling helpless and lonely just like you do. Get your strollers and walk together, be TOGETHER, make the hard call to a friend for the number of a counselor, do what you need to get you WHOLE.


"Comparison is the thief of joy."

Do not compare yourself to any mom. You are all shaped and formed different, you will all bounce back differently. Just when you think you are doing well, you will walk by your friend who gave birth yesterday and she might be rocking a bikini. Tell her she looks great, and walk on by.

Do not stare, and do not COMPARE. Yes, there will be some body types, that will be able to strut down a runway 2 weeks after birth. They are the exception. Be happy for them and don't give it another thought. And don't talk about them…


Trust your gut. Don’t ask a million other’s opinions. Because everyone will make you second guess yourself. You know your child’s needs and what best works for him. Don’t compare your parenting skills to someone else’s, they have different kids. They do organic baby food, awesome, you don’t, awesome. They homeschool, great, you send your kids to public school, great. You know your kid’s and the older they get the more you need to REMEMBER THIS!


Don't have in your head you will eat 1600 clean calories, work out 7 days a week, and will have post baby body back in 2 weeks.  (I remember feeling so frustrated because my expectations were absurd. I thought I would hop back on a bike the next week, sprint up hills again, like a 9lb baby didn't just come out of the exact place I would be sitting on a bike.)

Celebrate small wins everyday.

You took a shower- WIN

Eating a healthy snack, WIN

Kids didn't die today, WIN


Above all, remember who you are and how awesome you are. You just birthed a baby for goodness sake. Your hips are out of place, you just ripped open your abdominals, (google C-Section if you want to be totally grossed out,) your hormones are whack. You have lots going on. Give yourself grace upon grace. With some work and patience your body will come back, maybe not the same, but who cares, it is just a body. Being healthy mentally and physically is most important.  Be patient, give yourself a break, kiss your babies and try to look at those stretch marks and extra skin as something to be proud of. Your body might not ever look exactly the same. But I promise with hard work, patience, and small choices daily, you will be surprised just how great you can feel.

P.S. These will be some of the hardest days of your life. It is super overwhelming. Go shut yourself in the bathroom and get out that cry! The hard sobbing, snotty one...then take a deep breath, look in the mirror and say I am the best mom I can be, dig deep, be patient, do the hard, and watch you surprise yourself.



I would love to know any thoughts you had after having a baby....what did you struggle or not struggle with. Guarantee most of us all have the same thoughts. You are never alone. 

DON'T FORGET to get all your favorite moms their favorite presents. Please get your order in before May 1st. SHOP HERE









kristi hayesComment

One thing we strive to do as a company is live out our mission:


Our favorite thing is doing this with community. We want to give you the opportunity to join us in serving the Homeless youth of Denver. Sox Place is a drop-in shelter in Denver that provides food and a safe place during the day to Denver's youth and young adults. They also provide employment in their screen printing shop.


There are a few items on their wish list for their kids, something we know our community cares about. Many of these kids are sleeping on the streets. When I hear their stories I am amazed how many of them have even survived the trauma they have been through. 

Here are some items they are in need of:
1. Sleeping bags
2. Backpacks
3. Flash lights

We wanted to make it easy.

We have provided links to these items on AMAZON.  

All you have to do is click on the items above and it will lead you to an amazon link. pick an item or two, buy, and ship here: 

Sox Place address: 
2017 Lawrence St, Denver, CO 80205


Thank you in advance for your servant's heart. And showing up for others. 


Loving our kids well..when sometimes we don't have a clue.

kristi hayesComment

(Remembering a few years ago...I find myself on this same journey many days.)

To tell you the truth momming does not come naturally to me. It’s something I have felt guilty about in the past, that others do it so much better than me. That it's supposed to be natural and effortless, something I should feel like I was born to be. It’s something I have to work at…something I have to be intentional about. Other things come easier.

I am not downplaying being a mom for one second. I wouldn’t change it for the whole wide world. But I would be lying if I didn't tell you it isn’t hard, exhausting, and self -sacrificing on so many levels, and that’s probably why it it may feel hard for me. We all want to preface it with, it’s so worth it, but dang it is hard. 

But this week I caught little glimpses of why it’s so worth it, being a mom to these two. The way they love, care, and stick up for one another is all I need to see. The way they still make each other laugh after hours together in the car, the way they have their own private jokes, and the way they cheer each other on is priceless to me. I love seeing how they are being strong for one another, protecting each other, and loving one another in their actions. 

It could be as simple as Holden making a nutella sandwich first for his sister before he makes one for himself, or sis bringing down Holden’s favorite blanket without him asking, just because she knows he needs it.

This week we went to McDonalds playground. Some mean girls decided to stake out the playground apparently. We didn’t realize McDonalds had playground gangs. 
I guess the little girls said, they were going to take away Carter Mae’s doll that she had in her hands, because they were the boss of her. 

Holden sitting right beside her says, “you could never take it away from her, she’s too strong.” 

The little girl said, "I am stronger, look at me I can climb this pole.” (she starts to climb the pole, but doesn’t get far).

Holden: "Well, my sister can climb a rope all the way to the roof, so….”

Grant and I watched this take place and we watched our son protect his sister without being asked. We watched his sister beam with confidence and pride because her favorite person was telling others she was strong.

It was one of those weeks, I just really melted into my role as mom, even though that word encompasses so much.

I think I just wanted to let other moms know who are in the throws of young mommy hood that it’s ok to feel exhausted, tired, and even like you weren’t made to do this thing. The little years are not for the faint of heart.



There will be days when you feel like you GOT IT, and days you have no idea why you were asked to be these kids mom, because you most certainly will screw them up.

Other things may come easier to you and you may compare yourself to others. You probably haven’t slept very well, and you probably forgot what “YOU” were before kiddos. 

And although those days come and go, sometimes it feels like you are in a season forever, there will be glimpses and experiences that you sit back and just can’t believe you get to watch these little ones come into their own, and it starts to mean something, it starts to mean everything and you soak it in and, breathe deep and, think I'm doing ok...

Recently I did a FACEBOOK LIVE on loving our kids well. I asked lots of people about what this meant to them. To watch this

We talk about:



We would love to hear your thoughts and advice, and the moments that make you sit back, and say, "everything is going to be ok!"


kristi hayesComment

Be strong... it’s a great phrase. People tell us this all the time, when we feel weak or need a little extra umph in our step. 

But what does it really mean? Does it mean we can’t ever show weakness or even feel it? Does it mean we have to put on our tough face when circumstances are awful and out of our control and all we want to do is break down?

Be strong... it’s a phrase we used with our son a few years ago when he wasn’t being treated great by a friend. It was to tell him, you are gonna have days you feel really weak, scrawny. Unfair things are coming at ya, but be strong. Be strong in who you are, don’t let anyone tell you, you are different then the beautiful soul God made you. 

Circumstances will make you feel weak, and buddy it’s ok to show weakness, but deep down, you are strong, capable, because that’s who God made you, and he’s there every step of the way with you. 

Hey friend, today you may feel weak, and that’s so ok, you don’t need to fake strength. Tell those around you what’s going on, so they can remind you how very strong you are and be your strength until you remember. 


I feel strong....

kristi hayesComment

Today is International Women's Day. A day to celebrate each other well. This week I asked women what made them feel strong. Many of the answers brought me to tears. When I asked girls ages 6- 14 year old their answers, they could give them to me quickly and succinctly. Some said, "When I am a leader." Others said, "When I help others or when I work hard for something." Today we will be shining a light on women and their answers through our instagram stories as well as on Facebook.


But one thing that intrigued me was how much longer it took for grown women to answer the question. Many had to really process.  It took them a longer time to get back to me, some even said it was easier to list what made them feel weak instead.

I am not sure what happens from our young age to when we grow older. If we lose our sense of what makes us feel strong or  gives us strength, if we are afraid to announce it to the world, for fear of critique. Or maybe the world has made us feel weak and not ENOUGH, because it is always saying we have to be MORE.


Last week I had a group of women in my living room. We are planning an event for young teenage moms for Mother's Day with a local non-profit, called Hope House. As we were discussing what we would like to do that day, it became very clear to me that each woman present could run their own thing, and many do. They all were go-getters, type A-ish personalities.  Everyone had an opinion and wasn't afraid to voice it.

But as I sat back and watched I noticed something different about these ladies. Instead of anyone feeling jealous, or comparing, or even struggling to be heard, all of these ladies celebrated each others' gifts. They let each person share their gifts and incredible talents. No one was afraid to say what was their strength or what they could contribute. It was pretty spectacular to be part of this. Many times leaving a meeting like that, with so many of the same leader personalities would feel discouraging. People would feel stepped on, or that they couldn't get their opinion across. But that was  not the case here.

It was magical to see everyone know their strengths, voice them, AND then come together for the common good to serve others.


It's amazing what can happen when we find people who are brave, compassionate, organized, leaders, go-getters, challengers, inspirers and saddle up beside those people; never comparing our gifts to theirs, but learning and leading together;always appreciating each one's strengths and letting each other shine.

What makes you feel strong?



kristi hayesComment
eyes wide lights shine.jpg

The Florida Shooting rocked me last week, as it should all of us. I am so sad for the families who have lost their babies and loved ones. It’s something so awful and incomprehensible. 

But my heart also is so broken for this kid who thought it was ok to take the lives of his fellow classmates. Why? What on earth would cause someone to snap like this?

I don’t know why anyone would do something so horrible. It’s unfathomable. It angers me, but it also breaks me for the kid who ruined all these lives, their dreams, their legacy. 
Somewhere, whether it be mental illness, rage, anger, loneliness, something broke him. 

The word advocate keeps coming to my mind. And how just one person, one advocate, one extra, who spots someone hurting and step-ups beside them could maybe make a difference. I don’t know if it would have here. I don’t know what his life was like. 

But I’ve seen just one, change another’s world just by entering in when their life seems unbearable, not worth living. The one steps in, sees this hurt, enters in, and changes everything. 

This is why I tell my kids EYES WIDE, LIGHTS SHINE. Every single day!

Eyes wide to the kids pain who may not show it but whose hearts are literally breaking inside. 

I believe we have to train ourselves to see this kind of pain, we have to look for it, like really look for it, we have to ask God to give us his eyes. The ones that see ALL the turmoil and sadness, and then I believe we have to act. We have to saddle up beside those who are hurting, be their advocate even when it is super uncomfortable and when it takes sacrifice. . 

It just takes one. One person who advocates for the life of another. 

Let’s be people (speaking to myself) who are not so busy with life that we miss the ones hurting. That we might actually pursue those who are broken, damaged, who seem to far gone. 

 Let us be the one.

Eyes Wide, Light Shine. 


kristi hayesComment


Last week we talked about parenting. How to love our kiddos well. And as I talk to other moms about “momming,” there is a certain theme that shows up. We talk about the ever present mom-guilt, but the glaring topic that seeps inside of us, whether we voice it or not, is that nasty thing called comparison. The thing that steals ALL the joy from what we are really doing well. The time we show up to our kids Valentine’s party and we are so proud of ourselves for actually getting them their cheap, sponge bob square pants cardboard cards on time. Like the actual day before they are due, when you realize every other mom in your kids preschool class has done a full fledge goodie bag with homemade treats specialized to each student’s dietary needs. (not really, but kind of).

If we are honest that would throw us right off our game. The joy that we felt when we got our kids cards on time, sat with them and laughed while watching them try to write their friends names in their best pre-writing penmanship, flies out the door. Because all we can think about is how our kid are the only one who didn’t bring a full  gluten-free gift basket to his classmates.

Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why does someone else’s awesome make us feel not awesome? Inadequate?

I love the quote, "YOU DO YOU!"

Seriously, you do what you are capable of, what you love to do, what brings you joy. Not what stresses you out, not what you feel like you HAVE to do to compete or feel worth as a woman, a  mom.

When I had my kids, I had only heard about the drama of mom-relationships. I wanted no part. I hadn’t had drama in a relationship since  junior high and I wasn’t about to start now. So I avoided others mom like the plague. I would drop off my kid and run to the car, no coffee dates, no play dates, nada.

When Holden went to first grade, I changed my tune. I thought if I meet mom’s who are killing it in the “Mom game,” instead of that making me feel inadequate, I am going to celebrate them and saddle up beside them.

Meaning, I am going to tell them they are doing an awesome job, and then do life with them, ask them to help me with what I am not gifted at, or my personality suits, and do it together. Those who are super organized moms could totally intimidate me, because I am not that. I am going to forget my kids’ field trips and permission slips. But if I celebrate and saddle up to that mom that has all the things planned, they help keep me organized too.

We trade talents. I help decorate for a class party or carpool their kids somewhere, and they promise to text me when a permission slip is due. We help each other, we do life together, and let me tell you, it is so much more fun that way.

All of us have different things we bring to the table. Most likely the mom that you envy or think has it all together, had the same fight that you did with their kid that morning. They may have even cried like you did, when you dropped them off, they just may have bigger sunglasses and an ability to smile through the pain.

Let’s be a company of women who celebrates and saddles up.

Can you imagine the difference we could make in each other’s lives, if we were all telling each other how very worthy we are?


kristi hayesComment

Love everyone, thats our theme right now. The last line of our tag line. Love can be so many things. People talk about the romantic kind, the kind that makes a great movie, the one that gives us butterflies and every looks at and says ahhhh.

But who talks about the every day struggle bus love?

The love that endures sickness and stress?

The love that shows up for the other when they can't show up for themselves?

 The love that doesn't look romantic, but is more secure and a picture of true love then any lovey dovey movie will ever have. 

This week I experienced this type of love. We threw a party for my in-laws 50th anniversary. That in itself is a pretty awesome love story. But looking into their story the last 7 years has shown a picture of love that most people don't experience. You see my father-in-law has Lewy body Dementia. Which means he suffers from Dementia and Parkinsons disease. This disease is horrible to watch. To see a man who was full of wit, brilliance of mind, sense of humor, be stripped of himself, is horrible. 

 The love that my mother in law has provided for him, is probably not what she imagined when she said her vows. Through sickness and in health. I will love you forever, no matter what. She demonstrates the NO MATTER WHAT everyday. 

Their love story isn't the one that makes the beautiful cover of a book or movie. It's not the butterflies and romance. It is the hard, gritty, showing up day in and day out to care for someone who can't care for themselves. It is putting aside all of your dreams and desires to care physically and emotionally for someone else. 

You know when someone who is really in love says, "I couldn't live without you." He literally could not live without her. She is his air, his world. She cleans him, cooks, keeps him safe, comforts him. She is apart of him and he apart of her. He can't express himself anymore, but I saw glimpses this weekend. Him holding her hand, smiling, that knowing look. I saw glimpses of his old self. The self that loved her so well. 


I want the romantic, butterfly, can't live without you love. But I want THIS LOVE most. I want the hard, gritty, show-up each day, even when it can feel unbearable love the most.

Grant and I met on an airplane. We have been married 15 years, but it's funny, we say, sometimes that we are just getting to know each other. We are very different, so we are always learning ways to love each other well. Saying you are  sorry,offering  forgiveness,having  patience, are all things that make a marriage work, and ones I need to work on more.

Here are some things that have kept us loving one another:


Find your spouses here:  Mine is time spent and affirmation and touch. I am basically all of them! (poor Grant), Grant’s is acts of service. So if I have his clothes laundered, or lunch prepared for him in advance, he is feeling loved. But if he did laundry for me, I could care less. WE tend to love our spouses the way we like to be loved. So when we first got married I would give him all the affirmation and he would clean the house. But because those weren't OUR love languages, it didn't work! Now he knows I would rather cuddle on the couch then him do laundry. And I know he would rather have his dry cleaning picked up, then a note that tells him how much he means to me:)



Each week we plan a date night. It's usually on Tuesdays so we can get a babysitter or switch with a friend. Do we need  date night every week, probably not, but there are some weeks, we really need to touch base with each other and share our hearts, and some weeks it's just good to be together. With both of our busy schedules it is one of those things that is preventative. Because my love language is TIME SPENT, just having the date night makes me feel special.




  •     How did I love you well this week?
  •     How can I pursue you well this coming week, or pray for you?
  •    What does your schedule look like?

These questions can take 5 minutes or 5 hours! Usually it's just a check-in. But knowing what the other has planned for the week gives us the opportunity to give each other so much more grace.  If Grant communicates to me that he is stressed at work, then I am much more of a grace giver when he is home late. I knew in advance. And he knows when I have a  huge launch week coming up, the house will look like a bomb went off. It’s not because I didn't want to pick up, but because I had other things going on.



I know this might seem hard for some, but whatever you have to do, bribe your parents to watch your kids, get away for a few nights WITHOUT kids. Sleep in, enjoy each other, have no responsibilities. Each year we get away with our best friends, we check in with our marriages, we ask super hard questions, and we always come back more motivated to work on us.




Each night we pray together. I am not talking about getting on our knees and praying for hours. I am talking about before bed, Grant prays for us. It's simple and sweet, but has been our thing for 15 years and one of my most special times of the day.




Loving your spouse is a journey, none of us have it down, we do it better some seasons than others. But don't let the mundane and the crazy hassle of life overcome your relationship. Because if you aren't careful you will look and say, what happened? Be proactive instead of reactive.


***We would love to hear how you love your spouse well.***



kristi hayes2 Comments

We are focusing on our tag line "LOVE EVERYONE." If you missed our Facebook live you can watch on replay. I tag team with my friend and Chef Gwen Klebba, about how we can love ourselves well, which in turn help us fill our tanks, so we can pour all that goodness on others.  You can watch here. 

Sometimes we are so depleted at the end of the day taking care of everyone else, that we don't make time to take care of us. And in the long run it causes burn out, and causes us not to love others well around us. I know you have heard it a million times, but loving ourselves well, helps us love others well. If we have a negative look at ourselves it is easier to carry that same attitude onto others. 

Here are a few ways we love ourselves so we can prep to LOVE EVERYONE.

1. SPEND TIME IN THE MORNING BY YOURSELF. I pray, read, meditate, drink a big cup of coffee and hot water with lemon. I sit with my cat on my lap, light a candle and spend the morning quietly.

2. EXERCISE. I can't say this enough. As a former trainer I know what exercise does to our bodies but also our hearts and minds. Besides all the amazing health benefits, living longer, less risk of disease, mentally and emotionally it can truly save us. When we know that we are doing all we can to take care of ourselves, it gives us confidence. It doesn't mean our bodies change over night, but it helps us EMBRACE the beautiful bodies we have. 

3. FEED YOUR BODY WITH GOOD THINGS- So I know it's important to eat healthy, but planning and prepping DOES NOT come naturally to me. I asked a friend to help, and this is what we go over in our FB LIVE. We went to Costco, and then washed, and cut veggies, browned and grilled meats, and made bags for lunches and dinners all week. I am loving myself by putting good things in my and my family's body. 

4. DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE EACH WEEK. Something that feeds your soul. Read a good book, paint, write, hiking, watching a good movie. Whatever it is, do it, make time for it. It will replenish you. I like to have one day a week, I stay in my joggers all day, read the paper, read books, cuddle with my kids while we watch football. A NOTHING DAY.

5. ACCEPT YOURSELF AND GIVE YOURSELF GRACE. Stop attacking your looks, your quirks. Embrace those babies. Many of you have literally birthed babies, and your body might look different, embrace that your body did something miraculous. Get rid of the social or magazines that tell you different or make you feel less than. Stop following those who make you feel like you have to be perfect. Set up sticky notes on your mirror to help you remember you are a masterpiece. Remind yourself daily and remind someone else they are too. 


We would love to hear some ways you LOVE YOURSELF WELL. Because when we remember we are God's masterpiece and we truly live that out, we will view others as God's masterpiece and extend that same grace and love to them. 





kristi hayesComment

No one ever said I had good editing skills. I like to do a word for the year, and wrap my goals around this word. But this year, I just couldn't make it one word. It has become a phrase. I just love words and their meanings too much. 

Our Phrase:

Build on Behalf. 

We want our business to grown on behalf of others. The more we BUILD and grow our little company the more jobs we can give the homeless we work with to screen print our apparel and make our home goods pieces. 

The more we BUILD relationships with others, the more we truly get to live out our mission:




The more we BUILD partnerships with others, the more we can give back to organizations who are like-minded.

We want to make be strong story a uniting company, one that speaks and represents those who may not be heard.  

We want to be on behalf of another

in the interest of others. 

Will you join us?

Comment below your phrase or word for 2018, how can we come alongside you?

Goaling out 2018 (How we do it)

kristi hayesComment

Yes, we know its January 9th, and everyone is all up in their goals. It is something I look forward to every year. I love the clean slate, the fact you can dream with others, and see what you can accomplish after you work really hard. Here are some ways we tackled goals this year.  

1. Review last year, write things you were grateful for. What went great and what didn’t. 

2. Word or phrase that encompasses our goals

3. Set goals in different areas:

4. Use some good tools to help. I really like Lara Casey's Power sheets. And the Day Designer for a planner. 

5. Plan a day to do a vision board. Cut out magazine clippings, put it somewhere as a daily reminder of your goals. 

Have fun, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Hold things loosely, so if things change you don’t freak!

Grab a quiet place with a good cup of coffee, and start letting the ideas flow, remember they don't have to be perfect. Write everything down and then start to categorize. Don't be afraid to be messy.


What are some of your goals for this year??? 

Top 7 in 2017

kristi hayesComment

TOP 7 THINGS in 2017

We can’t thank you enough for your incredible support and love this past year. Thank you for helping us live out our mission of


We were able to go from lunch box note>>>Family Mission>>>>Company Mission.

TOP 7 in 2017

1. Launched our own website.(

2. Gave back profits to organizations who live out our mission like:

All among us (giving dignity to the homeless)

Heart for Lebanon (Care for Syrian and Iraqi refugees) 

Sox Place (Day Shelter for Homeless youth) 

3. Use local screen printer who employs homeless.(SOX PLACE SCREEN PRINTING)

4. Empowered 2 men coming out of homelessness to make our home goods

5. New jewelry line with Branded Collective who employ those who have been sex trafficked.

6. Because of you we doubled our sales each launch, which means we get to give away more.

7. See lots of families and kiddos wearing and living out the bestrong story message.


Thank you for journeying with us and living out the BE STRONG, PROTECT THE WEAK, LOVE EVERYONE message. We can't wait for 2018

Gear up your family for 2018. YOU CAN GET SOME OF OUR FAVORITE ITEMS HERE


2018 FAMILY PLEDGE (setting those family goals!)

kristi hayesComment

Right now is about the time that you are thinking about making those New Year’s Resolutions or goals. My favorite thing is to look back at what went well and why, and what are the things I am going to pour my heart into this year. Usually that means getting a planner, Emily Ley is my favorite, and maybe some Power Sheets by Lara Casey to help me on my way.

Many of us do this process for yourselves individually but have you ever come up with an intention or mission for your family?

(Maybe not, because just the thought of getting everyone on the same page or having them be at attention for more than 5 minutes gives you anxiety sweats.) 

It doesn’t have to be some long, drawn out, mission. One that causes stress because you just can’t get the wording right, or everyone doesn’t agree on everything. Nobody’s  got time for that.

But what about joining our family as we continue our pledge to BE STRONG, PROTECT THE WEAK, LOVE EVERYONE? 

It’s simple, yet powerful. And it can mean different things for different times in your life.

So here is our encouragement for your family in 2018:

1.   Sit down with your family over a cup of cocoa or when you are out to dinner. Ask each other what you who you want to be in 2018?  What are some things you want to be known for as a family?

2. What does BE STRONG look like to a 9-year-old or to a 45-year-old? What does the PROTECTING THE WEAK look like at school, work, playground, neighborhood,downtown, or college? You fill in the blank.

3. What are some real actions you can take to LOVE EVERYONE in your daily life, but also as a family effort?

4. Plan out times when you will LOVE in ACTION. Find a community group or organization you can volunteer with or serve once a month. Ask someone who knows more than you, and see if you can tag along. Always be looking with eyes wide open to others you can love.

Let’s come together not just as individuals, but as families and friends. As we pledge to:




###(Gear up your family with reminders of family pledge here.)

###If you would like a sign to hang email us for a custom made sign from our homeless friends. 

### We would love to know what your family’s come up with. Tag us @bestrongstory on facebook and Instagram and give each other some great ideas. Use the #bestrongstoryfamily

Twinkle lights, the more the brighter...

kristi hayesComment

I love these twinkle lights✨✨✨I love coming down in the morning and seeing them sparkle in the darkness. The more of them together the more they shine. It reminds me just how good we are together. When we have each other’s backs, cheer each other to success, celebrate 🎉 others goals and suffer with those who are lonely or beat up. 

I was reminded yesterday as I voxered two friends of a goal I had for our business. I was shy on my goal. Immediately the friend got on my website and helped surpass the goal, then she shared with us one of her goals, and immediately we got on her business site and did the same. In a matter of MINUTES. What was important to me was important to them. I have friends who share, host,  brainstorm, and take pictures and get giddy when I break a goal. And I am reminded how shiny and bright those people make me feel. How special I feel when people really care, and how it makes me feel the same when I really celebrate someone else. It’s like a complete set of these shiny twinkle lights✨✨one light shining for another and so on. Everyday I tell my kids LET their LIGHT SHINE, that may mean looking out for someone at lunch, or writing a note to a friend (sis does this weekly, that just says I love you). When is the last time you have written a note to a friend that just says, “I love you?” When is the last time you received a note that said those simple phrases, or “I am for you, or I have your back, or we will get through this together.” We all need the twinkle lights and we all need to be one for someone else. 

It’s a reminder to myself, “who can I shine bright for today?” Because when their are many twinkle lights, there is a hint of magic to all those who need to see the light.

Heart for Lebanon (GIVE BACK TODAY)

kristi hayesComment

 2 summers ago I traveled to Beirut, Lebanon to visit an organization called Heart for Lebanon. Heart for Lebanon is a NGO, that provides care for Syrian and Iraqi refugees. They care for thousands of families who have been torn from their homes and made to flee for fear of death.

I sat in small living rooms that housed entire families as they told us their story of fleeing their home. We heard stories of mothers, who literally dragged their daughters out into the streets, running from ISIS, as their husbands disappeared while trying to get a car to get away. I sat and cried in living rooms of mothers who told me about how their daugthers had nightmares every night. How they had trouble getting jobs in a new country, and how they feared for their future as they waited for other countries to take them in.

I also saw hope in their eyes through such devesastation. They had been through some of the worst pain and suffering we could ever imagine, yet becaue of Heart for Lebanon coming alongside of them and caring for them, they were going to get through. The human spirit is amazingly resilliant.

I met teachers from Heart for Lebanon who were providing these refugee children with education and a safe place to be children. These teachers were dealing with traumatized children who drew pictures of death and destruction, blood, and war, when they should be drawing pictures of playgrounds and rainbows


It was amazing to see children thriving amidst the torment their little minds had seen. These Heart for Lebanon teachers were showing them love, care, the power of learning.


Meeting with the teachers, families, founders of Heart for Lebanon, forever changed me. It showed me what a dedicated group of people who love others well can accomplish. How they can slowly start to piece back the human heart with the love of Jesus flowing through them. It is a miraculous thing to witnesss.


We want to thank them today. So for every sale TODAY, 50% of our profit will go to Heart for Lebanon and the amazing work they are doing in the lives of refugees.


We are better together. 



kristi hayesComment

My favorite book this year was a children's book, WONDER by RJ Palacio. I read it and then had Holden read it with me. I remember just bawling in the hammock as I read of this sweet boy whose face was deformed, who was brave, and taught others the gift of kindness. When I read this book, my friend Mary Catherine called me and said, "your mission, your message, is what this books is about." We at Be strong Story, celebrate all the cast and crew for bringing such a sweet and compassionate book to life  We can't wait to see the movie that comes to theaters this weekend. Be Strong, Protect the Weak, Love Everyone. #choosekindness

How to wear a hat.....seems simple enough.

kristi hayesComment

Seems simple enough. Just put a hat on your head. But when you have a really small head like mine, it's harder than it looks. And how do you wear hats and still look put together and not like you just got straight out of bed? Which is what usually happens when I wear a cap. (Do as I say, not as I do). 

1. Don't be afraid to style your hair and put on a ball cap after...i know that sounds counterproductive, but pulling your hair out around your ears, so your ears aren't sticking out has been a game changer for this small head of mine....before I could only wear kids hats. Some of us aren't blessed with those amazing locks like our model Laura. Now I get to fake it by putting the hat over my ears and hair covering it. 


2. Dress it don't need to wear a hat with sweats. Wear it with jewelry, cute bestrong tank with some fun earrings and scarf. Don't be afraid to go out of the box. 


3. Pony it up....Try a side ponytail, instead of putting your ponytail through the hat loop in the back, swing the ponytail to the side. 


And lastly, add your own spunk and personality. Fun and smiles can pull ANYTHING off!

Get your hats here


We be STYLING....(Trendy ways to dress up your bestrong gear this fall)

kristi hayesComment

We want to show you at Bestrong story how you can style an awesome t-shirt or sweatshirt and make it something fashionable and even dressy. Many have asked us, HOW CAN WE DRESS UP our favorite Tee? And we have all the answers, well maybe just some, but we like to think we got it figured out sometimes. 

EXTRA TIP: Lay out all your clothes with all the different shoes, jewelry, accessories that could go with it. Such a great way to pair down your closet. 




Don't be afraid of mixing jewelry, leopard flats, a skirt, heels, or a stylish hat with a t-shirt or sweatshirt. The mix and match is playful, well thought out, and smart. Why is it smart? Because not only are you comfy, you look put together too. Like you actually tried. And as much as I would like to sit in sweats and slippers all day, it feels good to put on some bling or fun accessories and go for it.  Big Earrings, necklace, lots of bangles, leopard flats, scarf, hat, skirt. If ever in doubt always add leopard. 



Flannel is my favorite. It layers under and over shirts. You cannot go wrong with a good flannel. POPS of COLOR underneath a sweatshirt is my favorite. Layer with a necklace and some good booties and you are good to go.



Use a shawl, blanket wrap, cardigan, scarf, vest, or lightweight hoodie. There are so many things you can wrap around these cute shirts to stay warm. Add some fall knee high boots or converse and you are golden.


And lastly, always wear a smile:) It's your best accessory hands down!



kristi hayesComment

A friend emailed me this about our be strong story bracelet.

She said:

"Yesterday as we were all feeling the rawness of the tragedy in Las Vegas, my first grader found a Be Strong bracelet on the playground. She saw that it was ripped and asked her teacher to help her mend it with a staple or two. Then she brought it home (assuming it was mine) and presented it to me and said,

"I fixed it for you mama, now you can be strong again." Kind of broke my heart all over again. It's like my kiddo helping me heal, helping me feel not feel broken." 

When my friend sent me this, it just gave me chills. I thought how simple, and yet, how very powerful. Kids are in tune to our feelings, their eyes are wide open to others pain. Don't we all just need to take a cue from this little 6-year-old girl. 

Sometimes we just need a little mending, everyone one of us has heart break, and broken dreams,disappointments, and tragedies that come unexpectedly. Things that can break us from the inside out. Many of us need mending right now, and some of us have the ability to mend.


The mending doesn't need to be fancy or perfect. Just simple and heart felt. Let's all help be the menders like this 6-year-old was today.