Pardon the Mess

August 17, 2023

Rethinking Adversity with Mike Erwin

If you look next to “DeFeo family” in the dictionary – you will not find words like “grit” or “adversity” next to us. Although all families endure some really hard things, we are generally not actively looking for opportunities to experience hardship.

My time with Mike Erwin was fascinating. He really opened my eyes to all the ways we can introduce adversity to our kids and why “comfort” is a really dangerous pursuit as American families.

Mike Erwin is a husband and father living on a 32-acre farm. He is also one of our nation’s heroes – he served as a lead intelligence planner for one of the largest NATO-led combat operations in history and earned two Bronze Star Medals from his tours. You can understand why he is an expert in the subject of adversity – but he’s also a dad raising little ones just like us!

My favorite part is when he encourages us to let our kids struggle. He explains how this can bring incredible confidence that our kids won’t learn any other way.

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About Pardon the Mess

As parents, we know raising kids is the opposite of neat and tidy. Each day brings wins, losses and valuable lessons. Pardon the Mess is a place where we discuss parenting and faith in a biblical, approachable and relatable way. We may cry and laugh while we learn and grow together in our beautiful mess.

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About Courtney DeFeo

Courtney DeFeo is the NEW host of Pardon the Mess! She is the author of In This House, We Will Giggle and Treasured and creator of ABC Scripture Cards and the kindness movement, Light ‘Em Up Acts. She loves to encourage parents and women through speaking, writing, and podcasting. She also serves on the board of For Girls Like You and Lighthouse Family Retreat. Her deepest desire is to encourage others and give generously in a way that draws people to God.

Her most honorable mention is her husband Ron and their two wildly fun girls (Ella, 16 and Larson, 14). Courtney is passionate about Jesus, coffee, Auburn football, Coca-Cola classic, her dog Mazie, spending time with friends and family, and finding deals at TJ Maxx. Although they have lived in Atlanta and Orlando, they currently reside in the DFW area. Courtney’s family loves to serve at Compass Church, travel together, and consume large amounts of table-side guacamole. Connect with Courtney on Instagram or visit


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