Saturday, November 12, 2016

Things I Hate

Today has been one of those days where I have been more drawn to complain, than to praise. And if I'm honest, the past week or so has had the same shade of pessimism in my life.

My staff team here at Rutgers with Athletes in Action, regularly goes through challenging material together. This semester we are reading Broken-Down House: Living Productively in a World Gone Bad by Paul David Tripp. My most recently completed chapter was about anger. Tripp compared two types of anger--the kind that probably comes to your mind when you hear the word {frustrated while in traffic, short tempered with your family, irritable at work, etc.} and the kind that is aligned with God's anger {angry about injustices, sin, our fallen world, etc.}. And this got me thinking....

Via my online life, some people know me better than they would otherwise. And some people only know me through my online life. And I'm feeling like I want y'all to get to know me a little better. Yes, I get angry {the non-God angry}. And yes, I get good and angry, as Tripp calls it. What makes me good and angry? What are things I, dare I say, HATE?

  • I hate broken relationships. I've experienced several throughout my life and the effects of those around me who have had broken relationships. And I'm often left feeling hurt, inadequate, misunderstood. And I think it is good for me to hate that, because God didn't design relationships to be broken.
  • I hate death. About a month ago, I visited my grandfather in his final days. It was an absolute joy to have him meet his newest great-granddaughter. But it was absolutely heart wrenching to see him suffering. And now that he's gone, I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around just how different life will be without him.
  • I hate consequences. We {all people} make choices in life that come with consequences--big and/or small. The consequences sometimes don't go away. I hate the reality of a reminder of a bad choice.
Some more specific examples....
  • I hate seeing my daughters hurt.
  • I hate seeing my husband experience disappointment.
  • I hate pain. Like physical pain. I am a wuss.
  • I hate seeing others be mistreated.
  • I often hate hearing stories from girls on campus. During the last few years serving with Athletes in Action, I have had student-athletes share with me that they have been sexually assaulted, that they've sought counseling to get a handle on crippling anxiety, that they've had abortions, that they've experienced racial discrimination from peers/teammates, that their teammate was drugged and date raped, that their parents have been undergoing tests for a life threatening illness, that their parents are getting a divorce.... the list could go on and on.
People have stories. And I hate when we {Christians} ignore the people, forget the stories, and point fingers of shame and condemnation at the wrong just for the sake that it's wrong.
I long for a world of goodness, love, mercy and grace, humility, kindness, and sincerity. And if there's anything I've learned from experiencing the above list, it is that the kind of world I long for is a far way off...and only possible by the grace of God.

Fellow Christian, I implore you... let's aim together to love well, extend grace, and proceed with humility. Let's strive to make our world, although inevitably fallen and broken, a little less worthy of our anger.

"For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." 
- 2 Corinthians 2:15

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Happy Halloween Indeed

Celebrating Halloween can be a controversial topic for Christians. This October, I have come across several articles offering different perspectives on the matter. This one is my favorite. And here's why...

Tonight, my family took part in Halloween. Our porch was donned with a pumpkin. We took our two little ones around our neighborhood trick-or-treating. We handed fun sized candy out to costume clad children. It was a Happy Halloween around here indeed!

As we were out taking part in Halloween, we met several of our new neighbors! We've lived in our home for 3 months now--so we are still "new to the neighborhood." I loved having that built-in opportunity to knock on someone's door. Our family met George tonight, who lives a few houses down. In our brief exchange with him, we learned that he has lived in his home for nearly 50 years and lost his wife just a year ago. I'm pretty convinced that without Halloween, I wouldn't have had that opportunity. After we got home, Tyler and I have discussed ways to love George well and reach out to him!

We are aware of the stigma that Halloween holds, the arguments for not celebrating, the reasons for the porch light to be off. But for us, Halloween is an obvious open-door to engage with those in our community. Hopefully, the Lord will continue to lead us to connect with our neighbors in a natural way. This year, Halloween was just the first step.

Monday, October 10, 2016

And Something for the Baby Mama

My littlest will be two months old this week. I don't know how that happened! It literally seems like yesterday that my first born was two months old. The fact that I am Mama to two little cutie girls, still blows my mind. But I am, nonetheless.

In light of the fact that I feel like I'm finally crawling out of my "I have a newborn" hibernation, I thought I'd share some things I've learned over the last just-less-than two years.

I have now given birth to two tiny humans. I have had three pregnancies--two to term, and both of those ending in a gestational hypertension diagnosis. Just prior to my most recent tiny human delivery, we moved into our first home. Two short weeks after Brylee was born, the fall semester started at Rutgers (which, for us, means busy schedules and full work days!). Does this make me an expert? Not in the slightest. Does it make me crazy? Maybe...haha! Either way, I thought it'd be fun to share some things I learned along the way in the whole "bringing tiny humans into the world" journey.

What made me feel cared for when recovering from child birth, transitioning into motherhood, navigating breastfeeding, functioning on little sleep, and what felt like, some days, I was barely surviving?

  • Food. Y'all, I love food. You've probably picked up on that. When Peighton (our first) was born, we had friends bring food from our favorite sub shop to the hospital, a friend left homemade banana bread at our apartment, a student athlete brought over Chipotle for dinner one night, and our freezer was stocked with crockpot freezer meals. When Brylee was born, we had those same subs brought to us--by different friends, my husband picked up Dunkin Donuts *although more for Peighton, but I reaped the benefits!, my mom prepped 20 or so crockpot freezer meals, and a friend from church brought over her DELICIOUS bruschetta and a pan of baked oatmeal. It was so incredibly helpful to have less to worry about when it came to food prep with a new baby. Cooking a full meal was one of the last things I wanted to do, after childbirth. So to have someone thoughtfully provide for me, meant the world.
  • Gifts. Gifts are my love language. When I am given a gift, it speaks directly to my heart. A gift, to me says, "I wasn't with you, but I was thinking of you and I care about you." I've learned about myself that flowers are my favorite post-delivery gift. When my husband and Peighton brought home roses after an errand, my heart was mush. The friend who left banana bread for us, also left a vase full of colorful blooms. And my sweet Mama brought flowers to the hospital when Peighton was born in the vase her mother had given to her when I was born! Talk about meaningful! 
  • Sleep. The gift of sleep isn't just nice, but necessary. I'm convinced there's nobody more tired than a breastfeeding new mama. After Brylee was born, I remember handing her to my mom and saying, "I just need to close my eyes" and my mom snuggled sweet Brylee for I don't even know how long while I snoozed on the couch. It was blissful. Any new mom is grateful for the extra set of hands in order to allow for some much needed Mama zzz's. 
  • Chores. Like cooking, laundry and cleaning aren't high up on my "can't wait to do this" list after child birth. Showering yes, chores no. When a friend from church came over and offered to do my sink full of dirty dishes, I was blown away. When a load of spit-up covered baby laundry gets done--and you have no part in it as a recovering mama--that's a win. When my hands are free from chores, I am free to snuggle my babies, and that's what I really want to do when I'm a ball of hormones. 
  • Errands. Getting out of the house is no easy task with TWO teeny ones, especially in the very early days post-childbirth. Having someone say, "Can I pick anything up for you on my way over?" can mean the world.
  • Initiative. I'm learning about myself that I am not great at asking for help. And, sometimes, I turn down a general offer for help even if I need it. So in light of my own issues, I realized that what's most helpful, and thoughtful even, to me is when an obvious to-do gets done. As a recovering new mama, I barely have enough energy to keep myself and the tiny human I'm nursing alive each day, let alone help anyone else. I don't have the physical energy to do much of anything, but I also don't have the mental energy to even be aware of all that needs to get done for those around me!
  • Words. "Kind words are like honey--sweet to the soul and healthy for the body." - Proverbs 16:24 A kind and gentle word goes A LONG way for me as a new mama. Anything uplifting and encouraging does the trick. "You're doing a great job. You're great with her. You'll get the hang of ______, persevere. It's hard, but it's worth it. I'm here to help." etc. 
There are many many many articles and blog posts about what is helpful to new moms. Obviously, my list is not exhaustive. AND, it's pretty specific to what was helpful for me. But there you have it, some insight into how to care well for a new mama!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Recipe Review: "Almond Butter Brownies"

My current situation's midnight and there is a sleeping toddler upstairs, sick sleeping husband across the hall, and I am in the nursery with a sleeping baby on my chest. I am not as tired as I normally am this late because about 4 hours ago I had a cup of coffee, haha! With Tyler feeling under the weather, I wanted to have energy to stay up to nurse and put Brylee back to sleep.

AND, I am back in the game, folks! Maternity leave is officially over and I am feeling so excited to get back into the swing of things with Athletes in Action here at Rutgers. While a lot of my days won't change, my Monday nights will look a little different for the rest of the year. Twice a month, I am hosting our student leader girls for a discipleship group. The material we will be covering is some of the best stuff I've ever gone through--it challenged me and helped me grow in so many areas. I can't wait to dig into it with our student leaders!

With tonight being our first scheduled meeting of the semester, I wanted to roll out the red carpet, if you will =) One of the girls is gluten-free, which isn't how I typically bake, so I had to think outside the box. A friend suggested I try Food Babe's Almond Butter Brownies. Y'all....oh my sweet goodness. These gluten-free, diary-free delights were absolutely delicious and a hit!!

Substitutions I made to the original recipe:

  • peanut butter for almond butter
  • Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips for "Enjoy Life" chocolate chunks
  • organic sugar for coconut sugar

Because this was a last minute decision, I used ingredients I already had on hand. And I wouldn't personally call what I made brownies. They tasted far more like peanut butter cookies. I would label them "Peanut Butter Cookie Bars." The short ingredient list, ease of this recipe, and yumminess has me already planning when to make this again. Without flour, I did not feel like I was sacrificing flavor at all. It was pure gooey, rich peanut butter chocolatey goodness that came out of the oven. And my cup of 8pm coffee was the perfect pairing.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

My Heart Language

Empathy is defined by Webster as "the feeling that you understand and share another person's experiences and emotions; the ability to share someone else's feelings." And I say, YES YES YES.

Recently, I have come to realize just how vital empathy is to relationships. I would go as far to say, it is the oxygen to relationships--without it, death is immanent. I have seen this in a few different areas. I've learned that I need to first listen to and choose to empathize with my friends who walk the challenges and realities of life as a black man/woman in America. My friendships will have no depth, truth, or real meaning if I am not engaging with their emotions and struggles. I've learned that I need to hear and empathize with my husband, especially when we are in conflict. That is how he knows I care for and respect him! And I have learned that as I walk through the daily challenges that are MOTHERHOOD, I NEED EMPATHY.

This week was a hard one, in a lot of ways. In summary there was projectile spit-up, leaky diapers, refusal to wear a diaper, disobedience, fits,  messes, hitting, crying, a constant need to be held, refusal to sleep, all topped off with an often impatient Mama. I texted my husband throughout the day with updates of how hard the days were feeling. I vented a lot in quick snippets via social media. And as I look back wondering, "why did I advertise how ridiculously hard this week was? why did I involve my Facebook friends in my challenging days?" I came to the conclusion that I was seeking empathy. AND I GOT IT. I was so encouraged to read comments from other moms--some who are also in the thick of it, and others who were able to say "this too shall pass." In my venting, I just needed to hear someone else say, "I've been there, too. I know how you feel. I am so sorry. And, there is hope." Because most days, I spend the majority of my awake time with little humans, not rational, emotionally mature adults. My heart needed comfort that only can be found in the verbal embrace of another: empathy.

I can't imagine I am the only one who has longed for this. How in your life have you sought the life giving words "I know how you feel" from another? How can you seek to grow in empathizing with others in your life? Lead with a desire to hear, understand, and feel with. It will change your relationships!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Recipe Reviews Debut

Recently, a friend of mine began blogging and I'm loving it. She is keeping her readers informed on her newly married life--and she's mushy gushy, which is great ;-) and she is sharing about eats--recipes she and her husband make, fun date night restaurants, etc. It's been a really fun blog to add to my reading list! Anyway, she has inspired me.

I love food. And I love spending time making food in my kitchen! What I am not great at is creating recipes. But I am a gifted recipe follower ;-)

So, I've decided to {try out} adding a new series, if you will, to my blog, specifically dedicated to reviewing recipes we try.

Naturally, we share with those around us what we like--because we want them to have the same positive experience we did with _______. So, I am giving it a whirl with recipes!

This week we welcomed fall. If you know me, then you probably know I am a fall lover to my core. I love the weather, the clothes, the accessories, and the flavors {read: pumpkin}. My co-workers also have a deep appreciation for the autumn season. It has become a tradition for us to have a fall themed staff meeting the first Friday of the season. Today, we celebrated with food and coffee--per our usual.

I have been on a baked oatmeal kick ever since my friend Sonia brought some over after Brylee was born. So, I decided to bring pumpkin spice baked oatmeal to our fall kickoff staff meeting. Plus, I made the decision last minute and I had all the ingredients I needed on hand.

The original recipe can be found here. I adapted it some to meet dietary needs and desires...
I substituted:
  • coconut milk for milk
  • applesauce for oil
  • pecans for raisins
  • pumpkin pie spice for nutmeg, cloves, & ginger
I added:
Y'all.... this was GOOD. I could have eaten the entire 8x8 pan of it myself. It had a dessert feel, while being a healthy breakfast food. That is a WIN in my book! Next time, I'd maybe add another 1/2 cup pecans, another scoop of JuicePlus+ Complete and perhaps some sort of glaze. (I omitted the whipped cream topping as I am currently dairy-free.) See what I did there? NEXT TIME. Because this will now be a fall staple in our house. If you give this one a try, let me know how you like it and what you do to make it your own =)

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Change of Heart & A Little Mess

Life as a mom to two under two has serious ups and downs. Some moments I love, some moments I cry. Some days I want to relive (and often do after bedtime by looking back at photos and sharing fun highlights with Tyler), and some days I wish we could just start over. But all in all, it's a joy and it certainly is a privilege!

In the past month as a Mama of two, I have learned that:
>my oldest is very empathetic and in tune to emotions--she doesn't like when her baby sister cries (and sometimes cries with her)
>my youngest sleeps through almost anything, even toddler fingers poking her face
>my oldest likes when her sister is awake (and calm!)
>my youngest LOVES to be worn--hallelujah!
>my girls both need me, and unfortunately, sometimes simultaneously
>my two hands are often not enough
>my own strength, patience, kindness, & gentleness DOES NOT CUT IT and I desperately need Jesus to {lovingly} get through each day
>the saying "the days are long but the years are short" is totally accurate
>I am more flexible and selfless than I ever imagined I could be

And I could share more, but I won't bore you with my progress report. I do, however, want to expand on that last lesson...
I recently opened an email from iMom with this fabulousness in it. I was really challenged reading Dr. Gary Chapman's thoughts on correcting behavior. He writes,

"In a healthy family, we are seeking to correct only the kinds of behaviors that are destructive and detrimental to the child’s development. We are not trying to destroy the child’s unique expression of creativity."

And oh wow! I so often choose to correct a behavior or am quick to say NO if whatever it is will be inconvenient for me, make a mess, etc. So, taking Dr. Chapman's words to heart... One day last week, my oldest was digging in the pantry. She pulled out A TON {plastic utensils, boxes of broth, unopened mayonnaise, grocery bags, vinegar, paper plates, cups, crushed red pepper}...and stuff was EVERYWHERE. I embraced this disaster, recognizing that Peighton wasn't in any danger. I died to myself and let her discover. In doing so, I got to experience this--

Pictured above is my 20 month old baby girl setting the table--forks, plates, cups, napkins. I about fell over in amazement when I saw this! The hostess in me was thrilled to see what my daughter has picked up through observation. And she was SO proud of herself!

Sure, I had a mess to clean up that day but man was it worth it! Seeing my daughter explore gave me great joy--because she was having an absolute blast. I'm sure there will be days that I don't allow her to express her creativity fully, but I'm hopeful those days will be fewer as I continue to learn how to die to myself and let her thrive in toddlerhood.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Date Night Doozy

I last shared about the transition my family and I were looking to go through, as we were anticipating the arrival of our second baby girl. The post was uploaded August 13 at 1pm.

About four and a half hours later, my husband and I were on our way to a nice dinner date night! The sun was bright, the air was hot, and we were ON A DATE (it'd been too long)!!

My sweet husband dropped me off at the restaurant doorstep, while he went to park--because he didn't want to make his very pregnant wife walk in the heat (good man, he is). As I looked over the menu while I waited for him, I decided on my meal... Cuban spring rolls appetizer and one of the specials--organic chicken with broccoli, potatoes, and cheddar (it had a fancy name and was served much prettier than the casserole I made it sound like, haha!). Y'all, that appetizer was THE. BOMB. Maybe it was just the pickles, but my mouth is watering as I type this. Old Man Rafferty's will be getting my business again, just for those spring rolls and desserts!! 

By about 6pm, I was having some decently intense contractions at the table. My poor husband kept having to pause our (serious) conversation and let me just writhe in pain at the table for a bit. We started timing them...and they were coming every 2-7mins and getting more intense. This is where the date night turns total doozie.... we got dessert to go, after I could barely eat my dinner. We were already down the street from the hospital, so off we went! I had just been to the doctor the day before and was told if I felt "funny" to go to the hospital--they don't seem to mess around when a pregnant woman has high blood pressure. 

At about 7pm, Tyler dropped me off and ran home to grab our hospital bag and let Peighton know we wouldn't be there in the morning. (Hello, birth of our second child, haha! I cannot imagine being dropped off by my husband during my first labor experience!) I was only slightly convinced I was in labor, and was prepared to hear "you're not in labor yet. Go home and come back when your contractions are ___ far apart or your water breaks." Kevin, a dear security guard, wheeled me up to Labor & Delivery. I got settled into a room and got all hooked up to the necessary monitors. It wasn't long after that my sweet nurse confirmed that I was in labor and would be staying and having a baby! Woohoo! And what a crazy ending to date night! While I waited for Tyler to return, I turned the Olympics on. I honestly don't remember what time he got back, but it looked like we had a long night ahead when he did. I was only between 3-4cm dilated. 

After I got an epidural (which, in my personal opinion, is one of God's most generous graces to women), the doctor(s) broke my water to get labor progressing. And boy did it ever! It seemed like just minutes I went from being dilated 4cm, to 8cm, to needing to push!! I must say... birthing a tiny human is one of the most terrifying things I have ever done. And knowing what's coming (again, second child) made it even scarier. I was convinced I couldn't do it. I was cursing Eve for bringing the curse of birth pains to us all. My nurses were cheering me on. And my hero of a husband was holding my hand, encouraging me with Truth throughout the entire process. Sounds like I needed a lot of championing, right? I did. But thankfully for us all, baby girl arrived after eleven minutes of pushing, taking her first breath at 11:14pm on August 13th. 

A healthy, full-term baby girl. Brylee Cole Stowell.

My fears of not having enough love for another baby, have proven to be irrational. Peighton seriously seems to love her new role as big sister. And our family is adjusting to life with a newborn (again) and melding as a family of four! Tyler and I are still in shock... but so thankful to the Lord for all His faithfulness, grace, and answered prayers.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Looking to Start A New Chapter

The role I have as wife and Mama in our little family of three is about to change. Within the next week or so, we are expecting our second little girl to take her first out of the womb breath! We will soon be a family of four. I am still amazed at that reality, and praise God for His perfect timing in gifting us new life.

Similarly to my previous pregnancy with Peighton, I have experienced some complications. The reassurance I have is, "God is in control, and He is good. I've been through this before. I'v'e reached full-term. My doctors know what they're doing." But, if I'm totally honest, this pregnancy, overall has felt a lot harder (maybe because I also am taking care of a toddler!). It's led me to wonder am I built to do this again?? Needless to say, I'm quite eager for this pregnancy to wrap up as the highs are in the nineties and life just feels a whole lot more challenging while growing a tiny human!

And then, there's the whole emotional aspect of adding another little one to our family... I have enjoyed so many fun moments with my first born, sweet Peighton Louise!
My heart is a little torn at the thought of somewhere, somehow finding more love to give to another little one. I hear it's possible, but I'm currently in the "I'll believe it when I experience it" phase. Every night when I put Peighton to bed, I whisper in her ear that she'll always be my baby. Some nights, she nods or gives me a verbal "ya" in agreement. And while I am oh so very eager to snuggle our little one on the way, my heart is grieving the loss of being a Mama to one.

Peighton made Tyler and I parents. She will always be our first. She stole our hearts! Now, we've moved towards prepping her for her impending role of Big Sister and are doing all we can to prepare our own hearts to multiply our love as we look to soon welcome Baby Girl Stowell Dos!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Platform for Success

Within the last year or so, I have given into what has been flooding my Facebook newsfeed--for what seems like forever. But for most of that forever, I was annoyed and judgmental.

Social media used for small business//sales.

Come on, I am sure you have friends who are Beachbody Coaches, LuLaRoe Consultants, small business owners (Etsy shop, etc.), Rodan + Fields Consultants, Juice+ Plus Distributors, and the like, filling your newsfeed with their products, promotions, and sales pitches. And I cannot possibly be the ONLY person who has had the thought, "Facebook is for sharing your life! I want to see pictures of your family...your LUNCH...but I'm not buying what you're selling."

And then I did it. It started, for me with a fellow Seminole High grad who had FAITHFULLY posted her fitness and health journey with Beachbody shamelessly all over her social media accounts. I saw she was offering samples of Shakeology, and because I had seen her progress, I thought trying a sample was harmless. That led to (although several months later) a commitment to a fitness accountability group and Beachbody workout program. And I was, within months, in the best shape of my life--even post-baby! Then I turned into one of those people, constantly posting about fitness and Beachbody....eeek!

Most recently, my best friend began working with LuLaRoe. This particular friend has been a faithful ministry partner since I began serving in full-time ministry in 2010. When she asked if I'd like to host an online "Pop-Up Party" again, I thought that seemed harmless enough and it would be a great way to come alongside her--after all, she'd been supportive of me for years! {Truth be told, I kind of hated what I had seen of LuLaRoe clothing up until she began selling it. And then I bought a pair of black leggings. And I have never in my life had anything so soft on my body. Now, I'm obsessed...let's just say, I had a LuLaRoe filled birthday!}

Why do I share all of this? Because these people who are posting about their products or businesses have FAMILIES and deep rooted desires to actually make a difference in the lives of others. My Beachbody Coach is a wife, mom of three, and part-time high school guidance counselor. My friend, the LuLaRoe Consultant, is a new-to-the Atlanta-area, burned out former teacher who chose LuLaRoe because of their desire to give back, as a company. These Facebook sales people are (not always, but) often times in it for way more than a quick dollar--and let's be honest, with non-supportive pessimists like us as Facebook friends, they are not making dollars very quickly.

I made a choice--after many judgmental thoughts and clicks of the unfollow button. I chose to support my friends and their endeavors. I chose to advocate for their cause--even when I may be their least profitable customer (because, my budget often says "clearance at Target" and not "handmade from Etsy"). And I want to challenge you to do the same. How can we stand with our friends who are working their tails off to make a living? How can we support the use of social media for small businesses? Maybe it's giving into trying that workout program that seems to work for everyone else "but would never work for you...." OR maybe it's committing to host a virtual party and introducing your friends to products they may like OR maybe, it's just choosing to have a positive attitude when you see your friend's post and applauding them from behind the screen rather than criticizing them.

Let's embrace social media as a platform for small business success!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Actions Speak

Actions speak louder than words, a phrase I'm sure most of us are familiar with. Those five words have deep meaning if we take the time to unpack them. But where did that thought originate from? Who came up with something so profound? I don't know the answer to that. 

However, I recently flipped the page on our daily Scripture calendar and 1 John 3:18 was before me. I began wondering if the generic actions speak louder than words phrase is a summary of this great Truth.

Maybe it is just me....  But words come up empty if there is nothing more than what is spoken, to give it value. Actions demonstrate what is beneath the surface. It is often times easy to say the right thing, but it is harder to fake loving in deed and truth. Lately, I have felt this tension and had to be mindful that words are just words until there is deed and truth as the foundation. I remind myself that I need to remain guarded when empty words are spoken, in order to protect my heart. This is a great challenge for me! As I seek to choose to believe the best in others, I also am called to (and know, from experience, it's best to) guard my heart above all else. When I am too quick to fall for words alone, I am often times left disappointed, hurt, or bitter. So I not only need to filter this as a recipient, but also as a lover of others. Am I loving others with simple words or am I truly loving others in deed and truth?

What about you.... are you loving others with {empty} words or are your actions supportive of what you say? I would encourage you to give some thought to this. And I'd venture to guess, it will make a  difference in your relationships. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016


Lately I have been faced with the reality that (surprise!) I have areas that need attention in my life--areas of much needed growth.

Why surprise? Because I know this. But at least for me, these realizations often come in waves or seasons. I'll just be cruising along and then straight out of left field, I am smacked square across the face with REALITY. I am reminded that there are areas of my life that need a remodel. 

I read a quote this week by Beth Moore that hit the nail on the head: "Embarassment is our friend when we let it motivate us to change."

Now my embarrassment (thank heavens) was more internal than public. But as I began to see the junk and unhealed hurt in my heart, I was embarrassed indeed. I have become a hoarder of sorts. I have let so much JUNK just take up space in my mind and heart and it is causing decay. So what's my plan? I need a remodel. And as exciting as the end result looks, I know the process is going to be uncomfortable--even painful at times. But I need to constantly remind myself of the beauty the finished product holds. 

I need to persevere through the demolition to the big reveal. But what I fear most, more than the discomfort, is the possibility of finding even more junk. If you've ever seen anyone go through an actual remodel--tearing a home apart to the studs, rebuilding something more sturdy and more beautiful than before, all while maintaining the foundation and bones--then you know a lot can "go wrong." Those HGTV shows have scarred me (and inspired me). I can see the surface problems and I am as ready as I'll ever be to tackle those...but it's what I have yet to uncover that scares me most. Oh but how I would be robbing myself if I chose the quick and cheap fix! I want to do this remodel right. No pain, no gain they say, right?

So, as I commit to uncovering, rebuilding, and beautifying, I do so both confidently and yet reluctantly. This isn't my first go at this. And I know it won't be my last. Thankfully, I have the promise of the Lord never leaving me nor forsaking me--even when my ugliest layer is exposed. And what a relief to know I'm not in this overhaul alone!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

It's Who I Am

Do you ever lose sight of who you are? Do you ever feel like your floundering in an ocean of opinions, expectations, demands, and labels? Do you ever lose sight of who God is? Do you ever find yourself begging Him to reveal Himself to you...yet again--because, although you hate to admit it, you seem to have...forgotten?

I can easily find myself there. I so often aim to be who others expect me to be, to be who others say I am. And...that is absolutely exhausting.

This week, I have been meditating on the truth of who God is, and who I am.

God, is a good Father, loving, gracious, generous, ever-present, perfect, and faithful. 

And BECAUSE all of that is true of God, I can trust who He says I am!

I am loved, chosen, beautiful, forgiven, a masterpiece. I am His.

Thankfully, none of these truths or realities will change. But surely, I will forget again. Maybe as quickly as tomorrow. But because God is good and gracious, He will always be there to remind me of who He is, and who I am. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

This Year..


Each year, I choose a verse or passage in Scripture to pray through throughout the year. It keeps me grounded and gives me a prayer focus (for myself). Last year, I knew with a new baby I would be coveting REST. So I prayed through Psalm 23...often!

This year, I'm still anticipating longing for REST (not just the kind I find by catching some zzz's but the kind I can only find at the feet of Jesus). And I'm also realizing how much I need God's GENTLENESS in my life. So I am praying Jesus' words over my life this year and clinging to His goodness.

By no means do I expect to be all rested, gentle, and Christ-like by December 31, 2016 but I sure hope to be closer to that than I am now. I long to be satisfied in His presence and to imitate His ways. And maybe, just maybe, by seeking Him and trusting who He is by praying His words over my life, I will see the fruit of that come the end of 2016!

What areas are you longing to grow in or what ways do you hope to experience God this year?