Fasting from social media…so far…

I believe that everything happens for a reason, and nothing happens by “coincidence”. I believe we are all part of a story that God has so eloquently written for our lives. I believe we still have free will, and make choices, but that God already knows the choices we will make. Oh, how He wants great things for us, just as any loving Father wants great things for His children (Matthew 7:11), but sometimes we don’t always see what we are going through as “great”.

Last Sunday, exactly one week ago from today, I made the decision that beginning on Thursday (December 1) I would give up social media for at least the month of December. My reason being that I am currently in a “wait and see” (see last blog for info.) and don’t want to miss what God has for me, as well as an attempt to be more present with my family, which is more important that SnapChats and Instagram posts this Christmas season. That being said, I have known since last Sunday that I would make this decision, and so far had has only 3 full days without social media. Only 3 days that is, and yet already I can feel a difference. It’s still not easy, but as of the first night I slept more soundly than I have in I can’t remember when, a pattern that is still continuing.

So that’s why my body woke me up like clockwork at 5:45 this morning (that and I accidentally fell asleep about 8:30 last night so when you sleep for 9 hours in a row you probably should be waking up). I fought it for a few minutes but then decided it would be nice to have some silence in the house before Brandon and Autumn woke up for me to “get things done”. Only God quickly reminded me that today is our Sabbath Day and that I was to just sit and spend time with Him, not to mention while I did that I could put some ice on my foot and rest since that’s the purpose of Sabbath anyway. Well played God, I thought to myself, and grabbed my Bible, my study book, and pencils and headed to the couch. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t opened this particular study in weeks, but I started reading through the pages and when I came to one particular passage of scripture I decided to stop and look it up in my own Bible translation to see how it would read. Then the very last verse from this passage stood out like a lighthouse on a dark and stormy sea: “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NASB). As soon as I read it I realized this is what God has been trying to teach me all week. In fact, let me give you a little play-by-play of how this week has gone:

Monday (1 day after being obedient and making this decision to fast from social media): God pours an enormous amount of thoughts into me on the way to work, for which I am hugely grateful. I think I have gotten my word for next year, which surprises me because I usually don’t get that until January or February, but okay cool.

Tuesday: I begin the process of wasting entirely too much time on social media, knowing it will “end” in 2 days.

Wednesday: I get myself ready to give up social media. I tell my small group and post this great blog called “Wait and See” to explain why I am doing this crazy gesture of giving up social media. I stay up until 11:58, falling asleep as I scroll through social media for the “last time” before finally deleting all of the apps on my phone.

Thursday: It feels weird not waking up by looking through Facebook, or checking Snapchat, so I decide to just get up already and I end up leaving for work almost 20 minutes earlier than usual so I go to Starbucks and get a FREE Starbuck’s Venti Iced Caramel Macchiato with fat-free milk and extra caramel drizzle (I’m sorry but did I mention FREE???). I get to work and get my day ready, nice and calm, not stressed, slightly annoyed at how much time I waste in the morning on social media. Several times throughout the day I tray to take a Snapchat or think of something funny to say on Facebook, and try to do mindless scrolling on everything. I whine to my community group (shoutout to y’all for being so amazing and patient) about not having social media. But right before I fall asleep something interesting happens: we have more money in our checking account than I have logged in my budgeting book. I try to figure this out for about 20 minutes and end up falling asleep.

Friday: I wake right on up and realized I’ve had a wonderful night of sleep, and think about how I actually wake up better and faster without social media. Go figure! I get ready and spend about 15 minutes trying to figure out my budgeting error but give up, only having partially figured out what went wrong. I go to work and do slightly better (but not much), mostly due to the fact that I had an enormous amount of work to do. That afternoon I decide to look at my budget and check log one last time and finally find ALL the errors and got us balanced up. And for the first time EVER I actually found unspent money. It was truly a mistake on my on part since all of our transactions really had cleared. God had provided a way for us to pay all the bills on time. That night we have our Supper Club Christmas party and I actually feel more involved not constantly checking my phone and had a great time.

Saturday: I take a few pictures as we work on the house but slowly don’t even think about “posting” anything. I go to check the mail and find the huge bill I’ve been dreading that is due January 1, but I also find my retirement refund check I’ve been waiting for for over a month to come in, and it is significantly larger that I had anticipated. Actually, to be completely honest, it was only $60 less that the huge bill that had came in. I screamed for joy and gave many thanks of praise unto God as it felt like an anvil had been lifted from my shoulders.

Sunday: After waking up after a 3rd night of complete sleep and rest, I do some Bible study and realize how much God is pouring into me and start writing this blog.

If you read “Wait and See” you know what a huge answered prayer some of these things really are, both financially and spiritually. God pulled through yesterday with this check and with the “found” money on Friday. The cool thing is how by not having this money sooner God protected me and kept me from Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping. I finally surrendered, and obeyed, and asked God with pure motives to provide this week on Wednesday (as He instructed last Sunday), and oh how HE provided! I asked Him for spiritual guidance in some matters (some of which I can discuss in a later blog) and He really overflowed my cup on those and my heart is just in awe of my Heavenly Father right now.

If you go back and read the verses before 16 in Hebrews 4, there’s a lot of great stuff there, but one of the things the author writes in verse 15 is that we have a high priest in Jesus, “who has been tempted in all things we are, yet without sin.” I stopped and realized that a lot of time I don’t cling to Scripture like I should, and I don’t let God hold me, leaning on Him for things like I need to. Do I really believe that I can come to God with confidence and receive mercy and find grace? Do I really believe that God has ALL wisdom and guidance and has been temped in ALL things, to where He can pour perfect insight into my life? I think part of me has doubted those things in the past, but just by taking a step in being obedient unto God, He gave me so many wonderful gifts this week, more than I could have even imagined in different ways than I would have thought, but I am even more grateful for these.

I don’t think it was just a “coincidence” that I lost money during the two biggest “sale” days of the year, but still found the money in time to pay the bills I needed to pay. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I read this passage of Scripture in a book I haven’t picked up in weeks, at 6AM this morning after having this particular week. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I am writing the last thoughts of this I hear Autumn sweetly call for “Mommy!”. I do, however, believe God, instead, holds for us a much greater life than we choose to live in 90% of the time. I believe we can walk in abundant life and hold fast to His word and abide in Him always and we will see just how much we are missing out on before with all of the distractions of life.

Does this mean everything is going to go right all of the time and life will just be perfect? Absolutely not. But God already gave us what we need to press on, we just have to make sure we use it.

“Wait and See”

At 9:15 the band started playing and worship began. I love this song, I thought to myself and closed my eyes like usual to sing praise from my heart. But today was difficult. I sung the words but soon I didn’t even hear myself singing anymore, lost in thought as my mind drifted away. A couple of times I said quietly, “Focus”, and though it sounded like a prayer it was more of a command to myself. By the time the sermon began I had thought of about a million other things than singing worship to God, and I realized just how distracted my soul truly was.

I can’t say when this unrest, these distractions really started, but for weeks now I have felt it coming. I think Sunday was just the tipping point I realized something had to change. As Chad was making his way up to the stage the words “silent and solitude” from the last sermon echoed in my heart and again I remembered the first stage of burnout: failure to take care of yourself. That for sure is me, I’m there I had thought after that message, but not much had changed in the past week. You see when you’re too busy being a control-freak and trying to be strong for and take care of everyone else sometimes your own needs go unmet. So here I sat, wondering what the next sermon series would be as I still reflected upon the last…

(Side note: Please note that the quotes used below are not direct, but come from my paraphrased notes I took)

“Wait and see. A wait-and-see moment is when you’ve done all you can do and are waiting for God to come through. Maybe your waiting on God to act, or your just waiting for guidance”. Everything in me froze and immediately I was intrigued. Chad continued talking and I felt like I could cry. Yes, I have been in a wait-and-see for a while now. I was waiting on God to act AND give guidance actually, but so far nothing. Just silence. In that moment I felt God speak, “You have not because you ask not”. Chad continued preaching and I kept hearing those words repeated to me, though Chad never actually said those words. I knew the verse was from James, but couldn’t quite pinpoint it. I flipped to James, “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:2b-3 NASB). Ouch, that hurts. What’s interesting is the words that followed from Chad…

“Some of you aren’t going to want to hear this, and I even debated on saying this…” Yikes… “Sometimes we don’t hear from God because of sin in our life. It could be a hidden area of sin or an area of defiance.” My gut reaction was no, because my relationship with the Lord has been pretty good, but then Proverbs 3:5-6 got brought up and the Holy Spirit convicted me about the whole “lean not on your own understanding” part. I soon realize my area of defiance/sin. Once again, I had slipped into having to always be in control. I wasn’t looking for God to guidance, but had been trying to do everything all on my own. I hadn’t asked God for guidance or help, and therefore had not received. And the few times I had asked God to provide guidance, or even asked God to provide financially in this “wait and see”, it was coming from a place of pride in my heart, which would allow me to be in continued control. No, I wasn’t asking God for more stuff or even more pleasure in those moments, but I was, in a nutshell, just asking to remain in control.

As we entered into a time of prayer I knew immediately what I had to do. I knew a lot of my distractions and unrest was coming from my constant contact with social media. I had been wrestling with God about giving this up but had not obeyed, and I knew the time had come to surrender. I decided that as of December 1 I would give up all social media (except for blogging and the occasional Pinterest search when needed) for at least the month of December. My other reason for doing this is because in this time of waiting, I don’t want to miss what God will provide, whether it’s a specific act of plain guidance. I want to make sure I’m available to listen to Him. Also, with it being the Christmas season, I want to make sure I’m fully present in the here and now and available to my family and friends, to remember the true reason for this season. Overall, I know that this social media fast is meant for my good.

Right before writing this post I was reminded of my word for 2016, “Held” when the song by Casting Crowns came on the radio. Once again, tears swelled in my eyes as I listened to the lyrics. This year I was supposed to learn what it meant to be held by God. While I still feel like I have more to learn, I now at least feel like I understand what God wanted me to know. I am not meant to go through life alone, even though it may feel like that sometimes. And while there is an expectation to be strong, I have to remember that this is not to be done in my own strength, but in the Lord’s. I must trust in Him and lean fully on Him, for He is the one who holds me, not myself.

This year has brought some crazy things, and life has “hit me out of nowhere” more than once. On more than one occasion I felt like I was barely hanging on, but man has God done some awesome stuff! He brought Brandon and I closer together in our marriage than ever before. He placed us in an awesome church family and in and amazing community group. Our family has grown and I was provided a full time job at my dream location. So while there have been plenty of ups and downs this year, God has consistently reminded me of oh how faithful He is. I am not alone, I can stop trying to hold on and have constant control, but instead, just be held by Him. ❤

Why I Love Millennials…

I LOVE leadership development. So much, that I decided to major in leadership in college. I guess my fascination with leadership really began in middle school. I was involved in various clubs and activities and knew I wanted to be a leader “when I grew up”. In high school, I had various leadership positions in some of the extracurriculars I was a part of. In college, I felt led choose a leadership major at Toccoa Falls College, though I didn’t understand why at the time and really did not know if I would ever get to use what I had learned “in the real [career] world”. I pressed on and graduated and began life as a stay-at-home mom, only months later to realize that this was NOT for me.

When I was young, I thought leadership belonged to a small, elite group. Yet, as a grew, I came to realize that each and every one of us has the power to be a leader. In fact, if you are a Christian, I believe you are called to be a leader in some way. However, YOU, whoever you are, have a choice whether or not to wield this power and be a leader. Even then, you have a choice of what kind of leader you want to be.

Leadership isn’t something that comes with age. It isn’t something that can be bought. But it is something that can be unleashed in any ordinary person’s daily life. Every day, I have an opportunity to be a leader, to make a difference, to impact someone’s life for the better.

God recently led me to begin a career at Georgia College, and so far, I absolutely love it. I LOVE working with college kids. They are incredibly cool to me. Each one is different and unique. They are my passion. I love this stage that they are at in life. It is so pivotal and impactful, and though my current position doesn’t allow me to spend much time with a single one, I love the interaction I do get to have with them.

Today, I believe millennials are misunderstood. We – because yes, I am guilty of doing this at times myself – judge them for being different, for not holding up to our own standards and even some standards of generations before us. We are quick to point out their flaws, but hesitant to give them praise. We get frustrated when they don’t know or do things that seem like common knowledge to us. We deem them selfish, we label them as babies, and we think them incompetent. Worst of all, we don’t give them the attention they need, or credit they deserve.

Change is inevitable. It happens every day. We cannot be so stuck in the past that we impose this upon the generations to come. If we inflict our own stereotypes upon any group of people long enough, eventually that is who they will become. However, I believe if you take a group of people, guide them, foster growth, and nurture them, they have an opportunity to become something amazing. This is what we believe and perform as parents, so why should it be any different with others?

So just why do I love this current generation of college students that we call “millennials”?

They are energetic. They have passion. They are alive. They refuse to be “normal” or mundane. They refuse to settle. They believe that dreams come true. They set goals and have plans. They are excited, enthusiastic, and determined, and if you hang around them long enough, their vibe is contagious.

They’re inventive. They’re entrepreneurs. They have vision and artistic talent. They are climbing the corporate latter while also starring on broadway. They make headlines in sports and begin to lead in academia. They want to be informed and they want to make an impact.

They’re optimistic. They’re focused. They truly want to change the world for the better, and they believe they can make a difference. They are strong. They love information. They want to be involved.

Is this generation perfect? No, but let’s be honest-no generation is! Every set has it’s own problems, problems to which the generation that preceded should help them in their weakness. Yes, this generation tends to think it’s entitled. Yes, sometimes they lack basic skills and knowledge that generations before them take for granted. But we have two choices. Either we can continue to point our fingers, pick out their flaws, and blame them for everything that is wrong in the world, OR we can humble ourselves, observing the own log in our own eye, and help this group of amazing people. We can guide them in their weakness and help them grow, while learning from their strengths. We can form relationships with them and build teams with them, and truly come alongside them to serve our communities and live out the Gospel of Christ.

After all, isn’t that what leaders are supposed to do?

Oh, and I almost forgot…while many people tend to think of millennials as only today’s college students, guess what? These are actually some of the last millennials. That’s right! If you were born between 1980 and 2000, YOU are a millennial. Remember that the next time you go to cast a stone! 😉

Heavy Hearts

I think I can speak for the whole LEO (Law Enforcement Officer) community when I say that our hearts are heavy. My heart breaks for the family and friends of the officers that died and are injured in the Dallas shooting. My thoughts and prayers are with them, as well as with every LEO, his or her family, and friends. I am just speechless and broken. It has been a burden on me to make my thoughts known for a while, and I feel now is the right time in light of recent events.

There is a flat out assault against police in our county that is not only occurring, but is being encouraged and even celebrated. It is absolutely astounding to me to witness such horrifying events. It is beyond me why the public has targeted cops as being all evil, all bad, all corrupt, when there are these types of people in ALL professions, not just law enforcement. There are bad doctors, bad teachers, bad construction workers, bad chefs, and so forth, but we don’t label them ALL bad. Let me be perfectly clear about this: there are both good and corrupt people in EVERY profession, and in law enforcement especially there ARE more GOOD than corrupt. The media focuses in on the bad because that makes a better story and gets more attention. After all, who really wants to see a good cop doing his job the right way. So they (the media) present distorted views to the public and the fire is fueled.

My question to those that are in this campaign against cops is this:

Who are you going to call when someone breaks into your house and robs you?

Who are you going to call when you’re in an accident and a drunk driver hits you?

Who are you going to call when your little girl is kidnapped?

Who are you going to call when someone attacks you while you’re out shopping?

Who are you going to call when a gang beats up your brother?

Who are you going to call when you’re house gets shot up?

Who are you going to call when someone has made a threat against your family?

Every single one of you would call “911”. Every single one of you would want a cop to respond. You have no use for police until you need them, but then when you need them, you will sure be sorry if they don’t respond.

LEOs serve and protect us. They are on the front line every second of every day. There is no “off” time. It doesn’t matter if they are in uniform or not. They are always aware and always have to have their guard up. It is exhausting and it is draining. I witness it in my husband every day. LEOs are constantly on watch for us. So on top of all they do, now they have to worry about being assassinated for no reason at all. Sure, they are trained in self-defense and use of force if the time should come. It comes with the job and is expected in certain situations. But now, they have to worry about being murdered just for bearing the name of a LEO, with no consideration of them being a person at all.

I understand that racism is real and it is a problem. However, racism is NOT as big a problem in the law enforcement community as the media would have it seem. Cops are to serve and protect the innocent from those who practice evil, regardless of who you are. If you are a person, regardless of how you feel about them, they STILL serve and protect you. That is their duty. When sworn in, they take an oath to enforce the law, and that it what they do. If you practice crime, if you partake in evil, you will be punished. It is as simple as that and is a concept that goes back to Adam and Eve. They did not listen to God, they sinned, and they were punished.

My husband is a deputy, a LEO. It is in his blood. It is who he is and who he was created to be. It is his passion, his calling, and his giftedness given to him by God. People ask me all the time how do I not constantly worry, how I can “let” him do this. The only reason I even  can have peace at all is because God. I’m not perfect and I have my moments where I am overcome by worry and fear, but that is where I have to trust God. I know this is what he was born to do, so how can I stand in the way of that? Tonight, the day after Dallas, a day where even more LEOs have been shot, including one in Georgia, as I watch my husband get ready to go in, my heart breaks. Inside, everything in me wants him to stay. I want to beg and plead for him to stop, to just stay with us, to do anything else. I want to just take him and run away to an island where we can be in peace. But I am silent. I remember this is who he is. He has a heart to serve and protect the people in this community, given to him by God alone. When we became husband and wife, one, I took my oath. I took an oath to always be loyal to him, to be with him always, no matter what came our way, to endure, and to bear his burden. So in this depressing time, I cannot help but admire him for his courage, to put on his uniform and do his duty in the evil times we live in, to still live out his calling, despite the widespread persecution. He is an honorable man, and a man I love deeply.

So I sit quietly watching, praying. I pray fiercely for God to protect him, because I love him and I cannot imagine my life without him, or Autumn having to live without her daddy. I pray for our LEO brothers and sisters. I pray for their spouses and children. I pray for their mothers and fathers. I pray for the rest of their family and friends. And I pray these horrifying assaults will never make it into our community.

Cops are people too. They bleed red. They have feelings and emotions. They have families and friends. They have hopes and dreams and fears. They swore to serve and protect you. Please, when you see an officer today, say “thank you”. Show some appreciation. Pray for them and pray for their families. They need it now more than ever.

Morning Humor

Most of my blogs this far tend to be deep and reflective of what God is teaching me, so today I thought I would mix it up a little and post something a little more comedic. Sometimes we tend to get caught up in the seriousness of life that we forget to laugh, and God gave me a reminder of that this morning. I wanted to share with you my thought process during this particular morning in hopes to lighten your mood. 🙂

Morning Thoughts:

5-something in the morning: OH MY GOSH I HAVE TO PEE!!! *Jumps up from coma-like sleep and stumbles to the bathroom, realize my nose is completely stopped up, and then stumbles into kitchen to get some nose spray. See a dark shadow in driveway that I assume is Brandon’s Tahoe (I of course didn’t have my contacts in and was still half asleep), then stumble back to the bedroom and call Brandon. “Brandon, are you in the driveway?” “Yes…” “Okay goodnight.”

6:35: Brandon is coming to bed. I don’t have to take Autumn to daycare today, my lunch is ready, I’m going to sleep 20 more minutes…*Back to deep sleep*

6:55: Man I still feel dizzy from sleeping so hard. I wonder if my blood sugar was high last night…

6:57: Crap! What am I thinking?!?! I DO have to take Autumn to day care today!!

7:04: My eyes are way to sleepy to put contacts in…

7:09: Oh I need to get the crockpot out to put supper in.

7:13: I’ll just put my contacts in real quick; I don’t feel like wearing my contacts today.

7:16: *Walking out the door* I didn’t put the food in the crockpot when I turned it on!!!

7:23: *On the way to daycare* “Autumn, do you not feel good honey?”

7:24: Why is she coughing this much?

7:25 Awe, she’s so cute loving on her Minnie doll…

7:26: Oh my gosh she sounds horrible…

7:27: “Autumn, PLEASE stop saying ‘no’…”

7:28: Is she getting what I had? I really don’t want her to have to have breathing treatments…

7:29: Seriously! I will lose my sanity if she keeps saying ‘no’!!!

7:30: *Tells daycare to keep an eye on her and call me if she keeps coughing*

7:32-7:49: Blank thoughts, sooooo sleepy….

7:50: I will make it…I will make it…I WILL make it…

7:59: Walking in the door to work like

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 9.42.24 PM

8:00: Sitting at my desk like…

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 9.46.00 PM

I realized after typing all of that how crazy I must have looked rushing through my morning, and I cannot help but laugh at myself. Why do we mommas think we need to have it all together all the time? I am so guilty of this. I tend to want everything on a nice schedule, to stick to a daily routine, and keep everything in balance. I have to be reminded that there’s beauty in the unknown and the best adventures are unplanned.

Today mommas, give yourself some much needed grace. Our Father doesn’t expect you to be perfect, and He gives His grace so freely, so why do we not accept it more? Why do we beat ourselves up for the little things like forgetting to brush our child’s teeth that time, or rocking them to sleep too much, or not realizing they haven’t had a bath in 4 days (whoops…)? Guess what, they WILL survive. They WILL make it. And they WILL still turn out great! You’re doing the best you can do so just breathe and let it go. Tomorrow is a new day. ❤

Coming Together

Just last night I was looking on Facebook and thought to myself, “God, there is so much evil and hate in the world. How are we to ever hope with our world in this condition?” Today He responded, “Your only hope is in Me. Your hope is I AM.”

In my relationship with God, every now and then He gives me these big “lightbulb” moments where all the details come together. I tend to see big picture and in the past I have tried to force the details. I am learning that, instead, God lets me see the big picture, then He works out the details and my only job is to be obedient. In these moments, God tends to overwhelm me for about 10-15 minutes and my mind is flooded seeing how He has connected things over the past few years. This afternoon I experienced a huge light bulb moment for me.

Six years ago this month a promise was birthed in me, and I now realize this promise is actually coming true. I recently discovered my destiny, cause, and calling (as mentioned in the last blog). Constructed solely by God, I realized that my destiny, my purpose, is “to empower people to change the world for the better”. My cause is to “provide educational opportunities”. My calling is “to learn about others through teaching, writing, and research”. Over the past few months, God has started birthing ideas in me to reach out to others and provide opportunities for fellowship. I realized that I truly enjoy learning about other people and cultures and that God has really given me a heart for people. God has also given me a true love for people, something I had been praying for. All of the sudden, I realized that these ideas were aligning with my ministry and my whole destiny statement. Everything was finally coming together. And God gently whispered “promise fulfilled”.

Six years. Six years of waiting and developing, and now it is being fulfilled. It’s not perfect and has a long way to go, but it is beginning and it is beautiful. But, ah, I realized something this evening. The promise he birthed six years ago is actually twofold, dare I call it, a double portion. Therefore, as one side begins, I have hope that the other side is not far behind. God is faithful, and He works in His own time because He knows best. He knows what we need, not what we want. Six years feels like such a long time, but what amazes me is the fact that yes, God revealed this to me six years ago, but He created this promise, developed it, long before I was ever born. He has always known my purpose. And wow is that amazing!

I finally see my hear of darkness coming into place with everything else. I realize now that that year was needed. Oh, how it was so desperately needed. It was literally a time of death. I had to let go of what I thought I wanted, of false dreams, and watch them die, watch them crumble into ash. My world was literally falling apart. But the thing is, that world I was living in was a world that I had constructed for myself. God did not cause that to happen, I did. I didn’t consult God but made my own way. I forced the details upon my own agenda. And I was absolutely miserable for it. So I had to be stripped of everything: my pride, my dignity, my broken dreams, and all my ideas of what I was. I had to die to myself. I had to learn, once again, how to make Christ not just my Savior, but my Lord. I had to let God rebuild me and give me my identity found only from Him, not my circumstances, not from the people around me, and not the ideas I had built up in my head. Just God, God alone.

Boy, has it been amazing. I can’t even describe the joy and peace I have in my heart. It is truly indescribable. I am living in God’s grace and freedom now in a way I never thought possible. A huge part of that has been God leading us to a new church. In April we began going to Dublin Bible Church and it was the craziest thing. We walked in that Sunday and as soon as the music started I felt the Holy Spirit take over inside me as God whispered, “Your home”. I prayed that Brandon felt the same way because for me, it was a done deal. Our search was over. Thankfully he did, and that is our home now. The first Sunday we were there Pastor Chad started a new sermon series over Joshua and our conquest for abundant life. Every message had fed my soul and has left me thirsting for more. Interestingly enough, this past Sunday was the final sermon in the series. Although I was not there, I realized something tonight. I am finally living in the abundant life God has for me. No, I am not perfect my any means. Yes I still struggle and fail. However, I can honestly say with confidence that I am walking in the life God has for me. I yearn for Him, I long to seek His face, and I long for His heart. I am content with where I am in life. I am at peace. And I finally see His promises being fulfilled as He is planting me in ministry right where I am today. Yes, I tend to be a dreamer and see big picture, but what is amazing to me is to see God working out the details right in front of me as my ministry comes to life. Break Away Ministries is happening right now. God is using me right now where I am. And it’s insanely beautiful because He is doing the work, not me. I am not forcing anything to happen, but am simply saying “Yes, Lord” with whatever details and instruction He gives. There are no words to describe the freedom this brings.

As a dear friend told me today, I am okay with waiting on the promises of God. For I know the longer it takes, God is making all of the pieces come together. The longer I wait, the more deeply rooted His work will be. Instant gratification shall not last, but with Christ being the foundation, with the work being deeply rooted in Christ, His promises will last. I am tired of temporary and fake. I long for the real and lasting. I long to live my life by the Gospel and bring love to a hurting and broken world. I am thankful for the work God has done and will do. I know He will finish His work in His time. For now, I am at peace. I am content to walk in the abundant life God has for me. And dear hearts, I pray you too find this abundant life that only God can bring. ❤

Promises of God

“Instead of your shame you will have a double portion, And instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land. Everlasting joy will be theirs.” (Isaiah 61:7 NASB)

I wanted to open this post with a Word from God, and this just happened to be the verse for the day on my Bible app. However, due to the nature of this blog, this verse is very fitting. During my senior year of high school God introduced this theme of double portion to me, and I found it fascinating. I felt like it was a promise He was going to weave into my story. Honestly, I have not thought about that for years until now. Reading Isaiah 61 we know about the affliction of the Israelites. However, even though this affliction was brought upon themselves by their own sin and disobedience, God was (and is) still faithful and promises to exact them, one of the ways is this double portion. It is fitting that I read this today because this afternoon God revealed to me how one of His promises to me is coming true in my life, and gives me hope for the future of more promises that are to come.

I have always been super careful in labeling something as a promise for God. I have not had very many of these in the course of my lifetime, but I have had a few that I know without a shadow of a doubt have come from Him. Some have been fulfilled and I am still waiting on others. One thing I am sure of, that God who began a work in me will finish it until completion (Philippians 1:6). Six years ago this month God birthed in me a promise. I had just returned from a life-changing mission trip and God spoke over me a promise, that He would be in women’s ministry, and that one day I would speak and write. Almost three years later, He gave this ministry a name, Break Away Ministries. I knew the purpose of this ministry would be to help women break away from their busyness, from being caught up in stress and frustration or whatever they were in, to spend time with the Lord and with each other. Time went by and it seemed like this promise would never be fulfilled. In fact, months ago I questioned whether or not I had heard from God correctly on this. Yet, over the past couple months, God has been doing some amazing things in my life, and three years later I see this promise coming true. I now see that God had to do some major work in my life to get me ready for this promise, and it has been worth the wait.

I have spoken briefly to certain people about the darkness I faced last year. For most of 2015 into the beginning of 2016 there was a darkness in my life. I was depressed and confused, lonely and miserable. The hardest thing I could not understand was why. I remember talking to my husband one evening and he said to me, “I don’t understand why you’re so miserable-you’ve got everything you’ve ever wanted.” He was absolutely correct and that was the question I had been asking myself for months. For eight years of my life, EIGHT, I thought my purpose was to be a stay-at-home wife and mother. I got my 4-year degree, did the hard work and had my “back-up”, but I was finally living what I had dreamed about for EIGHT years. Except, it wasn’t at ALL what I had dreamed. I indeed was miserable, and I could not understand why.

That fall I made the decision to start looking for a job. I was tired of not having any money for our family to have some freedom to do things like eating out or going away on day trips. We paid the bills and nothing was ever cut off, but it was tighter than ever. Plus, I realized I just needed to get out of the house and be with adults. In December I got my first “big girl” job at Verizon and it seemed like a dream come true. At first, I was really excited and it seemed like everything was great, but it wasn’t and though the darkness lifted for a moment, I slipped into further darkness. I became very selfish and consumed. My life pretty much consisted of my sleeping, eating, and working and that was it, leaving my husband to do everything else. I started having health problems and was diagnosed as a diabetic, type 1, which meant I would be insulin-dependent for the rest of my life. I went through some major changes, but much to my surprise, did not fall apart. God gave me in early January my word for the year, “Held”, and He has continued to hold me throughout everything I’ve gone through this year. Still, my family life felt like it was falling to pieces. My marriage was strained and I never saw my precious daughter anymore. One Saturday at work I fell apart on my managers and realized I was done there. Immediately, I could actually physically feel a weight lifted off of me. I worked my last two weeks there and left, not knowing what the future held.

Exactly two weeks later I got information from a close source that there was a temporary position opening up at Georgia College, and just a week later I was offered the position. 25 days after leaving Verizon I was back working full time, a true miracle to me. I never could have imagined how crucial this position would be, but God appointed it perfectly and aligned it to His will and put me in the right place at the right time with the right people. He gave me an amazing boss who spent time with me furthering my leadership and mentoring me, and just in the past two months I have grown tremendously. While there, I spent a few weeks learning about myself: my personality, my values, and my strengths. Then, he worked with me to help me form my destiny statement. He explained to me that a destiny statement basically explains your purpose. You’re a Christian and you are here to do God’s will, to further His Kingdom, but how are you going to do that. I knew that God uniquely designed me for a purpose, but I had never spent a whole lot of time looking into what this meant for me. Sure, I had ideas of things I wanted to do, but those were mostly constructed by the environments I had been in and people I was around. For about three weeks we worked on this. He explained to me that your destiny statement is made up of three parts: destiny (why), cause (be), and calling (do). I had to find out why I am here, who I am to be, and what am I called to do. After a long process, God finally revealed to me the specific wording of these and I knew it was perfect when it was finished.

I’ve been mulling this over for a couple of weeks since the completion and have thought to myself, “Okay, God. What next? Let’s see what you do with this.” Since then I have had some struggles and one night had gotten down. My soul just felt heavy and so I cried out to God, “When will Your promises be fulfilled? Lord, I’m so tired of waiting. It feels like this will never come true.” He softly encouraged me and I became at peace again, but there was still a longing in my heart…

*For the continuation, please see the following blog, “Coming Together”

 

Mother’s Day 2016

This Mother’s Day there are 5 mothers in my life I want to recognize. Because a Facebook post just does not have enough room, I decided to dedicate a blog space to them.

To Mawmaw: Thank you for stepping in and loving Conner, Autumn, myself, and all of us really, 9 years ago now, and becoming an irreplaceable part of our family. Thank you for being an amazing grandmother and spoiling Conner and calling him “my gold”. I had the opportunity to have multiple grandparents growing up that he did not, and I am beyond grateful for this. You hold a very special place in his heart that none other can fill. Thank you!

To Courtney: You are one of my very best and truest friends, and I am so excited to share in your first mother’s day! The journey here was certainly not easy-just take a look back where you were last mother’s day to see-but you are here. You made it, and you are doing a fabulous job! I know it doesn’t always feel that way. I know you have mixed feelings between guilt and relief when going to work. I know you get tired and frustrated at times, and then want to scream and cry at others. I know because I’ve been there too. But one thing I know for certain, you absolutely love your child with your whole heart in ways that only a mother can. You are doing your absolute best. You are human and are allowed to feel different emotions-allow yourself to feel those-and know that you are an amazing mother.

To My Sister, Amanda: YAY! Yay, yay, yay, yay, yay! I know you’ve dreamed about, talked about, and worried about this time for years now. I know you thought it would never  come, but you are here. A little human is growing inside of you and, *cough* he (okay, he OR she, but for ease of writing we will just say he 😉 ) is going to love you like none other! Although this baby has not exited your body yet, he is coming, and you are already a mother. If there is anyone on the planet who I know and have always known would make a great mother, it is you! I know you are scared, and I know you’re worried. I know you have doubts and fears. I also know that if we don’t set you straight, you’ll listen to the negative instead of the positive (WARNING: SUNSHINE ALERT). YOU are an incredible woman and have a true heart for mothering. You already have a heart for children in general, so I can only imagine the abundance of love this baby, and future babies, will have. There will be times you mess up, and there will be times you have no clue what you’re doing, but that’s okay. This is new, and you have to allow yourself to learn. Forgive yourself easily, because God does and this is new, take a deep breath, and move on. And when you need help, you know we’re here. Love you precious one!

To Annie: Do you know that “Annie” is an English name and means “grace”? Of course you did because you share my love of Google and random knowledge in general! 😉 I think this is so important because if anyone knows about grace, it’s you. You bask in grace and you give grace so freely and it is absolutely beautiful. I know that isn’t always easy for you. I know it did not always come this way, and that it took a long and difficult journey to get to this place, but you are here, and we are grateful for that. Grace is an important quality in mothering, and Lord knows you have had to give an abundance of it with your three boys (Trini, eh, not so much, haha!). When I hear stories I always think to myself how glad I am that you are there mother and not someone else because either she would be in the looney bin or they would be entirely different. Everyone is perfect in their own ways just the way they turned out. You are a strong woman, a fierce woman, and a beautiful, delicate, sensitive warrior woman. You remind of Jesus being both Lion and Lamb. You are a reflection of the savior’s heart. Thank you for always loving me, but going beyond a simple love to the point of mothering me as well. That is a rare diamond in the ruff to find, but you do it and are wonderful. You got that part of Sippi for sure, the way you love us, and it keeps her legacy alive. I know you may believe your legacy is left after you die, but as I have mentioned before, you are at the top of the totem pole now and your legacy already lives on in our lives as hearts as well, so you don’t have to wait until Heaven to look down and see it. You have not failed, you have victoriously succeeded already, and even though I know you have more to teach us (because you’ll never stop teaching us), you have done a fantastic job. I’m so happy and relieved to see you and Hoot taking time to camp and relax and just do for yourselves. This brings us all joy and if anyone deserves it you both do! We love you tremendously and are immensely grateful for you!

Last, but certain not least, to my own mother/Grammie: Where do I even begin? I know last year was my first Mother’s Day, but at that point I had only had a glimpse of motherhood. Now that I have more time under my belt I am even MORE grateful for you, and I know this will become more and more true as the years go by. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you have done and all you do. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made and make, for all the “sunshine”, for the teachable moments, for all the comfort in the tears, and for all of the laughs. Thank you for letting me crawl in your bed/room for uncountable years during the storms. Thank you for the naps together, ice cream runs together, my amazing beach chair,  and for my curly hair I hated growing up but now love because it’s so easy. The more I grow, the more I feel like I’m turning into you, and that’s okay because you’re not just an amazing mother, you’re an amazing person. You taught me to hope and see the light in everything. You taught that life can be tough, but it can always be tougher, and always get better. You taught me to always have your sunglasses on, always where some color on my lips, and carry my powder with me so my face does not look shiny. Most of my knowledge and practice of mothering comes from you, and it is a wonderful source because you are a true reflection of the Savior, of His tender heart, and of His unconditional love towards us. I know you haven’t always had it easy, that you struggle just like everyone else, and you have seen loss being so young that someone should not have to face. Yet, you continue to see the best in everything and I love that about you. There have been times-and I’m sure there still are-where I haven’t been the greatest daughter (insert time I got all the way to church before I realized I still had not told you happy Mother’s Day, I’m sorry!!!), but you are always faithful and love me anyway. There have been times where I have not always appreciated your mothering (insert countless times of grammar correction and thumps on my forehead), but I know it is for my own good, and that everything you do is to help me grow. Thank you for being an amazing mom over the years, and for continuing to be an amazing mom. There is no one else who can or ever will replace you. I’m so excited to have you closer, but even more excited that you and dad are finally getting to live your dreams of having your own land in the middle of nowhere and building your barn. You taught me that with hard work and faith, anything is possible. You taught me how to love, how to take care of  my family, and how to dream. You show me all the time how valuable I am, and I know now, more than ever, how much you really do love me. I cannot say this enough, but I love you to pieces, and am eternally thankful for you! XOXOXOXO

 

God’s Timing, For the Love, and Learning to be Held

I am fully convinced that God is always for us, and always working in the background orchestrating events that work together for our good. I haven’t always been so positive about this. I have doubted and lost my way numerous times, but He is always faithful to reel me back in when I am swimming in an endless ocean of uncertainty.

Sometimes we set out to do a task and just cannot stay dedicated to it, or we feel like we’re “too busy” for it, or maybe just feel completely unmotivated to complete it. When this happens to me I usually feel guilty and lazy and beat myself up. However, I am slowly learning that maybe, just maybe, some of these tasks are not meant to be completed at that time; that they were on my own agenda instead of God’s, and that they will be completed in His perfect timing.

I’m not by any means encouraging procrastination or delaying of important tasks. There is a difference between needing to brush your teeth, do homework, and putting gas in your car to make it to work than there is finishing a jigsaw puzzle, completing a novel, or planning a vacation. Some things have an absolute deadline and are necessary while others are completed at our leisure. In my case, one of these things was reading a book.

Last July I pre-ordered For the Love by Jen Hatmaker. I had previously read one of her books and completed a Bible study along with it (Seven) and absolutely fell in love with her and her writing style! I started following her on Instagram, Facebook, and eventually subscribed to her e-mail list. I started getting e-mails about her new book that was going to come out, and for the first time in my life I decided to actually pre-order something. A week earlier than the book was released those who had pre-ordered were able to start reading the digital copy. I read the introduction that night and knew it was going to be great. A few nights later I read the first chapter and was weeping. Without giving the book away, she was discussing basically how women want to find balance, but try to be everything. I remember journaling about this and feeling so guilty because I was definitely one of those trying to be everything.

I meant to keep reading it, but I honestly never started reading the book again until today. I did not know it at the time-I actually did not know it until today-I was not ready for this book. Things had to happen in my life and God had to prepare me to get to a place where I could read this book and be able to learn from it without condemning myself.  Jen didn’t write it to push women into condemnation and chains, she wrote it through the guidance of Jesus to help women find the freedom He brings. I could not understand that back in August, but I sure understand it now.

I just finished the first chapter, once again, but this time I feel very different. I can understand where she is coming from because of what I have gone through in the past 9 months (wow, I can’t believe it has been that long!). Nine months ago I was in a place or darkness and depression and this book was just not what I needed at the time, but it is what I need to now and I can accept that and be challenged in a healthy way. I am able to be stretched beyond my comfort zone, but in a way that brings joy and does not deplete me with exhaustion or anxiety. I have to remind myself that God does want us to be stretched, to get outside the “normal” and be uncomfortable, but He tells us this from a place of working for our good. He does not mean to “stress us out” or to pile up too many activities on our plate, or to sacrifice our family and our sanity just to satisfy everyone’s wishes for us and how we are to live our lives. No, I believe He wants us to get outside of our comfort zone to find joy, to find peace, to find freedom. We go outside the “normal” to experience abundant life, to know Him more, and to further His Kingdom.

Jen writes, “We need to stop being awesome and start being wise”. I am finally at the point where I can understand where she is coming from and not read those words and feel utter confusion as to what she could possibly mean. I feel the best I have felt in a while, spiritually, mentally, and physically. Before “balance” was a foreign term and I did not know how it could possibly exist, but now I believe I am starting to find it ONLY through the complete surrender to my Lord Jesus. My balance is being found because I am finally going from a place of guilt and shame to a place of dancing in God’s almighty grace. It is in that place that I am finally learning what it means to be held by God, to rest in Him, and be content to live life today, instead of yesterday or tomorrow.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” –Romans 8:28 NASB

My Running Journey

Until very recently I had given up on the idea of running. I had tried numerous times to “become a runner” or “get into running”, but I always seem to fail. I didn’t like it: the exhaustion, the soreness, or the sweat. Yet, knowing several people who enjoy running and participate in several races a year, I still wanted to experience what they did. I wanted to know this burst of energy that came from running, and even joy felt by many.

After my last failed “running” attempt, becoming very frustrated and drained I had thrown “running” into a little box of things I call the impossible for me. It was never going to happen. I tried hard to just accept it, but I was still dissatisfied. Something inside me wanted to keep pushing and give it another shot, but how could I after failing so many times? Why even bother?

Not long after having these thoughts I got some test results back that said I was (and now am) a Type 1 Diabetic. After seeing numerous doctors I knew that a severe lifestyle change was going to have to happen. Little by little I started incorporating changes, and my life has honestly been so much better because of this. It’s crazy to think that this diagnosis has actually changed my life for the better, and I believe it will save me from a lot of other major health problems I would have ended up with had I not made these changes. But that’s another story for another time…

A few weeks ago (around 2 months after my diagnosis) I decided I wanted to try running again. I decided to ask my dad about it, being that he has ran several long distance races in the past few years, and see what he thought. One of the races he did, along with several others that I know, is a half-marathon held in Savannah every November. I decided this would be a realistic goal to strive for, and even my husband said he would join me in training and running this race. After speaking with my father, he recommended a book titled Run Walk Run by Jeff Galloway. As I started reading the book, I could feel myself starting to hope again, and after finishing this book last week I am now a full believer in his method. While I was reading I would constantly hear a voice telling me, “You can do this“. I finished the book and had a training plan in place last Friday.

Today I had my very first day of training, and it was great. It was honestly the best run-although it was mostly walking because of the beginner’s method I am currently using-I have had in a long time. I was so encouraged and so hopeful from reading this book, and several thoughts came to mind that I knew was the Holy Spirit trying to teach me. It was then I decided to start keeping a record of what I learn on this journey. Training for this half marathon is about way more than just running some race. It is about physical endurance, but it’s also a spiritual journey for me. It’s about getting healthy and getting in shape. It’s about having a bonding activity with my husband. It is many things, and I want to keep a record of all this, and share it in hopes to encourage someone else as I have been so deeply encouraged.

Lord, thank you for this opportunity, and thank you for the hope that is in You and You alone.