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.

Advertisements

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.

Glancing back at 2015, looking ahead to 2016

2015 was hard. Like, much harder than I had expected. I remember thinking last year about this time that 2015 was going to be my year. My word for the year was “thrive“. Yet, as the year rolled by, it seemed like I was dying rather than thriving. Financial hardships struck us hard. Most of the time it felt like we we were barely getting by. God is faithful, though, and he got us through the year. Nothing ever got turned off on us so I know e are still fortunate and wee doing better than most of the world. Still, things just did not go as I expected. As Brandon and I experienced these hardships there were tensions in our marriage. I prayed often for God’s guidance on how to budget our money, but I took on a lot of guilt about our situation. We had agreed that I would stay home and take care of Autumn while Brandon worked and provided for us financially. I did the best I could with stretching our one income as far as I could, and Brandon would reassure me I was doing well, but I still felt awful. He would say, “You can’t squeeze blood from water and you can’t turn nothing into something”. In my head I knew this to be true, but my heart would not accept it I once again struggled to feel like I was doing “enough”.

Enough. It’s a word I have struggled with my entire (or at least most of) my life. Struggling to feel like I’m enough. It’s the biggest lie Satan wants me to believe and I constantly wrestle with feeling like I’m enough, even though God has promised me I am more than enough. It goes hand in hand with the promise of thrive though. He has promised me I won’t just get through the struggles of life, I will get through them victoriously, for I will thrive. That was my promise for 2015. And while I didn’t see it going through the year, the results are here and I see now that I did.

3 major events occured in my life this past year. February 20, 2015: I became a mother. One of the greatest moments of my life and a true dream come true. My precious daughter is 10 months old now and she continues to steal my heart with her joy and contagious smile. May 16, 2015: I graduated (on time) from Toccoa Falls College with my B.S. in Ministry Leadership. I had dreamed of that day for years as well. December 20, 2015: I got my first “real” job. My first full time without being a student job that is. Not an internship, not a minimum wage job, but a job I don’t even consider a job because  see it turning into a career “job”. This was something I had not planned on, but thankfully God knows best in any and every situation and HE provided this dream for me.

You see, after spending the summer at home with Autumn and going into the fall, I felt so out of place. A lot of my friends were either starting back to school, starting graduate  school, or starting their first jobs. I’ll admit I felt a little out of place, but I had my family to look after and I turned my attention to that. Time rolled by and our financial situation grew worse, and everything began to feel dark. I started neglecting household duties. This took a toll on our marriage as well. I realized I felt dead inside and I felt beaded by God. It seemed like His promises of different things would never come true,and I definitely was not thriving. I began to grow numb for a season until final I had a breakdown, well several actually. They began occurring during the summer and lasted until winter. I had achieved my ultimate dreams. I got my degree and was living life as a stay-at-home wife and mommy. This was all I had dreamed of throughout high school and college, but I felt so unfulfilled and besides that, it was HARD!!! A LOT harder than I ever imagined. Brandon and I started talking about my trying to find a job and began praying. We decided this was the best choice for our family. I began applying and finally I was hired with Veri zon, officially starting on December 20. Going through the hiring process, and even my first week of training with Verizon, it became more and more clear that this was where I belonged. God had perfectly designed this for me. I just knew it. Hearing the different stories from people who ae all very unique but similar at the same time, filled me with hope again and my sense of purpose was renewed. Looking around my training classroom I saw a room full of super diverse people from all types of backgrounds, yet I couldn’t have felt more at home. I knew and know that only MY GOD could have worked that out.

And so, in perfect irony, God made me full again and showed me that He can and does make me thrive, even in the winter when I never expected it. Winter is normally filled with the harshest of months and things tend to be harder, yet this winter I feel better than I have in a long time. I 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).

image

Thoughts for the night

I was looking at another blog where a girl and had handwritten some quotes and caught myself saying, “I wish I had good handwriting and could do something like that”. That’s when I realized it. I constantly find myself wishing to have the gifts that others have instead of being content or even excited about the gifts God has given me. I used to be completely sure about what all God had gifted me with, but for a while now I have been unsure of those but also of my God-given dreams…

My Disney World planning DVD came in the mail today. If you are close to me at all you will know I have been dreaming of going to Disney for YEARS now. To say I was excited is an understatement. I watched it not once but TWICE today. Once alone while magic pixie dust exploded from every ounce of my being, and then another time with my husband tonight (which I took notes of while I was watching – this is serious business folks!) Tonight as I got ready I couldn’t help but think about more dreams. All of my dreams – pretty much everything I have ever dreamed of actually – have come true. I graduated high school, graduated from college with my bachelor’s degree, got married to the love of my life, and I now have a daughter. The end. Except wait, its not the end. I got my dream, now, how do I go about living within the dream. That seems to be my difficulty lately. How do I now live my life? So, this led to an ultimatum for me….

Thoughts for the night:
I am slowly realizing that I have got to stop comparing my life to other people’s. My marriage, my child, my relationships, my lifestyle, my desires: all these have been uniquely woven into my and it is time to start treating them as such: unique. The time has come to quit looking upon others with envy and live my own life and dreams as God intended. I have to stop using others as my scale, and let only God measure me. My relationship with Him, my relationship with my husband and family, and my relationships with others will NOT look like anyone else’s, and I MUST be content with that. My choices must be my own, made my myself (and God and my husband), and cannot be based off anyone else’s lifestyle but my own. It is time to stop doing what is the “popular” choice, or the majority opinion, and instead do what is right for my family, ordained by God. This life is my own, I only get a short time to live it, and instead of looking around I need only to look Up. ‍‌‌‌‌‍‌‌❤

Definitely easier said than done, but totally possible and necessary. So, my prayer is for God to put a new dream inside me, and no I don’t mean a “Disney World dream (though I am still super stoked about going to ” the happiest place on earth”!!!). No, I mean an impact-the-world-or-at-least-those-around-me-and-my-community dream. I once used to dream of being a writer and speaker and traveling to do this to impact other women. So maybe I’ll start there… Goodnight! =D

Abundantly More

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” -Ephesians 3:20 (NASB)

I absolutely love this verse, every part of it, for so many reasons. It is one of my favorites and I almost burst into tears every time I read it. Sometimes we think that the Bible is just a history book written hundreds of years ago, but my how it is far much more! It is living and personal because the Word is God (John 1:1) who is alive right now! He speaks to us through the Word and can penetrate the very depths of our soul in a way that no one else can because He alone created us and knows us best.

This verse has not always meant as much to me as it does now. For a long time I was not even sure I fully believed what it said. Then, I experienced this verse in a personal way with the biggest blessing-a definite supernatural one at that-of my life, one I will never forget and plan on telling my children and grandchildren about some day. I cling to this verse and know that it is true, and I pray that God will allow each of you to experience it in a very real personal way as well. So, what exactly does this verse say?

There are a couple of things I want to draw your attention to. The first thing is the words “far more abundantly”. I absolutely love this! God did not just say “more”, but emphasized this point with “far more”, and then even added “abundantly” on to it! I want to give you a visual of this because it is so important to realize God’s love for us here that is being demonstrated. Think of something you love. I love flowers. Roses, hibiscus, daisies, lilies, and so forth. I imagine I am holding a bouquet of flowers from God and He says, “But wait, there’s more” and He leads me into a room that is filled with flowers all over the place. Wow! What a gesture-He has given me more! But then, He leads me outside into a field and says, “I want to give you far more, all of these flowers are for you.” Talk about prince charming! Yet, then, God takes me onto a mountain and I looks down and there are flowers of every color and shape and size that I can imagine, as far as the eye can see and I cry out, “Oh Lord!” because that’s all I can mutter through the tears and He whispers, “I want to give you far more abundantly.” That is how much God cares. That is how much He loves.

The second thing I want to point out is “beyond all we can ask of think”. It’s not that God just wants to bless us far more abundantly, He wants to bless us far more abundantly than we can even ask for or think about! Go back to my flower visual. I would never ask God for a whole valley of gorgeous flowers because I could never even think to ask God for that! I know the flowers are just a visual, but God really does work in our lives this way. Our mind is so small and finite compared to His. We think to ourselves and ask for something, even begging Him to act or work, and all the while He is just smiling at us thinking, “Ah, my dear one, I will bless you far more abundantly beyond what you are asking and what you can even think about.” However, we have to remember it is all in His time, not ours. We need to remember that we can only see the little time in front of us, but God holds the whole picture and knows exactly the right time to give. Trust me, it will all be worth the wait when He does!

Finally, there is “power” within us, and this is the greatest power to have. It’s not being able to fly or lift heavy objects. It’s not turning invisible or having laser vision. It’s something far greater than this because it is God’s power, the power of the Holy Spirit. God is working in us through this power every minute of every day and it is the way in which He connects to us so personally because God is living inside each and every one of us. We can never be separated from Him once He is living inside of us. So often I forget this and I think that my mistakes cause me to leave His presence. I doubt His great love for me. I become guilty when I don’t make Him my highest priority. And yet, He never leaves. He is always faithful, even when I am not. He loves me unconditionally and forever. Wow. What an amazing, personal, loving God we serve!