keep adding to your story

rhyannandmamaAnyone who knows me, knows that I love t-shirts. This is one of my favorites.

The story isn’t over yet.

A simple sentence full of truth and determination. It screams tenacity and grit, endurance and sweat, achy muscles and tears and exhaustion. It’s a phrase of hope for the future. There is commitment and faith in what’s to come. There isn’t any weakness in this phrase, but total and complete strength.

To you….. the broken, the hurting, the exhausted, the lonely, the forgotten, the overlooked.
To you… who is struggling with what no one knows about, to the one who doesn’t feel like she can quite hold it together any longer, to the frustrated, to the weary one. To the who is shiny on the outside, but totally broken on the inside.

Your story isn’t over yet. 

You are becoming the person you are working hard to be. You will laugh again. You will be loved again.
You will pick up the pieces and create new goals and dreams for yourself.
This isn’t the end. This isn’t how it will always be.

Give yourself a break. Be gentle and gracious with yourself. Remember that in order for the next chapter to be written, you have to participate in the story. Your level participation determines the quality of the storyline. Accept what happened in the pages before… Accept your anger and work through it. Do the work in figuring out why you’re hurt and upset and forgiving that person. Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for not seeing it, for putting up with it, for allowing it to happen again, for not speaking up, for whatever you’re beating yourself up about…. then, let it go. Forgive the one who hurt you – whether they care or not. whether they have apologized or not. whether they know it or not. whether they intended to hurt you or not. Forgive them so your heart and mind will be free, so you won’t keep pressing replay and rewind on what has hurt you. Train your mind to think on other things and pray when something triggers negative or hard memories.

Then, move on.

Sometimes very hard things happen in our lives and we will not always understand why God allowed us to walk through such difficult circumstances. But, when you trust his sovereignty and his love for you, the difficult things are a bit easier to take in stride. I may have said this before, but I literally forgot that God goes before me. I didn’t even consider what that meant and how him walking with me as he/after he has gone before me is such a benefit. He has already been where I am right now, he knows what is happening, he has come to put things in place so that I will experience exactly what I need to in order to grow in him, bear fruit, deepen my understanding of who he is and stretch my faith. He is working the next moments, hours, days, weeks, etc out for my good as he walks with me through it. I think of it as the ultimate surprise…. how someone goes ahead of you preparing a surprise or sweet little search … they know where everything is. They probably know who you will respond to each stop, each fumble, every turn and hint as they prepare this surprise. Then, of course, they’re walking with you through it or watching you as you figure this whole thing out and sometimes give you hints. They steer you in the right direction when you’re going too far off course, they enjoy watching your anticipation, they hold on to you and guide you when you can’t see. Then, they wait for you as you near the end. They are standing right there as you put it all together, as you uncover your eyes, as you make it through the end. They’re right there to celebrate you, to celebrate with you. They are there as you look back at everything you went through, as you see what all was prepared. They’re saying “yes! And, you almost missed this… you bumped into a wall here… you did so good there… ” as you see how everything was put together from the end. As you learn why this was kept from you, why you weren’t allowed in this room…. as you learn the why’s of every detail of the planning phase after the fact. They are there. They were always there. There was forethought. There was understanding of you, your personality, your routines. In order to pull off the best of surprises, you had to be known. Well…. The Lord knows you. He has a plan for you and he knows exactly what you need to go through in order to receive his best, in order to grow through what you must, in order to become who he wants you to be.
Doesn’t that make you smile?

Yes, it’s hard now. It is difficult and heartbreaking but the Lord has gone before you preparing this moment to work together with every other moment for your good and his glory. We couldn’t avoid this or we would miss out on some much needed growth and a pretty amazing ending – becoming more like the Lord an serving his people…… in whatever ways the Lord has for you.

God has and will always offer us joy and peace. Two things that can remain in the midst of the hardest circumstances. But, one day you will wake up and realize how happy you are. No matter what decision you made, even if no one understands it, if you are following the Lord, he will keep you through the bad but will also bless you with the good. You’ll be shocked at the peace that resides in your heart. You’ll have good days and you’ll have harder days. But, understand that they’re just days – not your life. A bad day doesn’t mean you have a bad life.  The days to come will be difficult, but soon, things will calm and your new normal won’t feel so mechanic and awkward. Your new routines will soon be habit and you’ll find yourself settling quietly there without your mind racing. Or…. you’ll learn to find some good in each day, you’ll draw closer to the Lord and as you grow in him your perspective will change. Joy, peace, and strength from the Lord will keep you. He will allow people to see that there is something in you that is not of this world, even when you don’t see it or feel it. You’ll walk with your eyes on the Lord which will make going through the difficult much easier that it would be if your eyes were on what is happening.

The Lord is good, y’all. And, he loves us. He has a heart for us.
A plan for us and will heal us.

He will redeem, he will comfort, he rejoices over us with singing, and he surrounds us with his unfailing love.

He who puts their hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and will not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

There are lines, paragraphs, pages, and chapters added to our stories daily.
We determine how they will read.
Trust in the Lord and be brave.

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me, too.

me tooI saw this on a Facebook friend’s timeline and it just made my heart so heavy and light at the same time.

There are so many times we watch our friends go through hurts and difficult experiences and we want to fix them right up. We want to bandage their wounds, fill them with comforting words and tasty food and wine, and send them off with perfect step by step instructions of “if I were you” kind of advice… But, y’all, while we ought to share wisdom and there are time we have to say hard things, everything has a perfect time. We look at other women from afar in difficult situations or hurting and we label them with all sorts of names and discuss the reasons why they’re in the position they’re in and what they need to do to better their situation. And, ya’ll, that’s not our job either.

When we see another sister hurting, if we know they’re hurting and going through a difficult season, our job is to love in action. Not in theory or the idea of loving someone.
Simply because we aren’t gossiping doesn’t mean we are being loving.
Love does something.
Quietly. Without selfish ambition or desire for control.
It doesn’t seek to put you down or rub your nose in your mistake.

Love stands shoulder to shoulder and digs deep with their friend. When we hurt, we usually just want a friend to sit with us, to listen to us, and feed us all the yummy food and hardcore drinks while we let it all out. We want to know that we aren’t alone. We want to know we are understood and no matter how bad the situation is or how bad our choice or response was, that we will still be loved. There is definitely a time for the tough love and words of wisdom and hard words, but when we know we are loved and accepted, we’re more likely to be receptive of that discipline.

Hurting alone is hard. It’s lonely and there is wisdom found in wise counsel, but before we begin doling out all of our well intended advice, love in action. Sit and listen…. Figure out what your friend needs and provide that and wine. Wine pairs well with everything. Then just aknowleding that while you may not have ever travelled down her road, you are there. That you love her. That she’s loved. And, if you authentically can, a “me, too, sister. Me, too.” isn’t bad either. Because on some level we have all had the same hurts – we’ve all been betrayed, hurt deeply, or just had a less than sunny day.

Never minimize who you are or can be to someone:
your shoulder against hers may be just what she needs to stand a little bit taller.

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feel the love, fill the home

13mos2I am so thankful I have twins, not because twins are just neat,
but because the girls have a sibling.
The girls are more fun than I ever imagined.. Their personalities are hilarious and I wish I could embed their interactions as their relationship develops in my memory forever. They’re just so sweet… God’s grace in diapers, you know?  One of my heart’s deepest prayers is that they have a relationship of depth and that they truly know, like, and trust each other. That they have a character and personality that encourages and invites. One of the other prayers I have is that the relationship the three of us share is one of not only depth, trust, and like but that we know each other. That the Lord continues to mold and shape me into the woman and mother that will be able to lead and guide, impart wisdom, and teach them well in every area of their life. My goal is that they leave my home well rounded and prepared to live on their own and be successful.
Our relationships are such an enormous deal to me because the Gospel is grasped, understood, and  lived out in relationships and I want them to get it early on…. in the comfort of their home… with people they have to endure because they aren’t old enough to move out. Or know any better. And, they’re going to like it.
Which is why my home is such a big deal to me. It’s a sacred space. So much happens within the walls of a home and my prayer is that I create a comfortable space and that I am who the Lord is calling me to be (kind & gentle before anything else).  All of our hopes, dreams, fears, success, and failures will be exposed and will either produce a confidence or brokenness.13mos
And, I know all of this may sound half control freak-esque, but I know that if I’m not intentional about what the Lord has put on my heart, I will for sure miss the mark. More than getting it right, I want to chase this passion the Lord has put inside of me.  I didn’t come from a home where all of this was a part of the fabric, so I have to be even more so intentional and aware of creating a space where relationship & Christ is the focus.
Joyfully, with peace and fun we will fill our lives with love and laughter. A serious matter but when the focus is Jesus we will smile wrinkles and memories that bring belly laughs and smiles across our faces. When you think about it, how huge of a deal is the day to day state of your home life when future generations are influenced by what is happening in your homes today? Our homes and are where we learn how to relate to the world. It’s within the relationships of those we share our couches with and pass in the hallways that we learn how to hold a conversation, how to stand up for ourselves, be forgiving, how to be love in action, and show ‘no matter what’ kind of love…. Our homes are where we learn how to compromise, share, work as a team, mentor, become teachable, work through issues, pray for others, ask for prayer, support, encourage, & serve.
We learn how to deal with conflict and how to celebrate… Our definitions of love, our ability to accept ourselves and others, our capacity to dig deep, our work ethic, and who we are is established in our home. one year shoot
While we’re still settling in and as I Clorox everything, I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed over our home. A home where beauty will be given for ashes, a home where healing and new beginnings will ignite life within the walls of this house we share.  Prayers about what will happen during our time here, prayers about my hearts goals and intentions, how the girls will grow…. prayers about how God will use us in this home are constantly thought, whispered, written, and spoken.
I know that the quality of their future deeply depends on how well they are loved, disciplined, and reared now. Parenting is the greatest calling that is a whole lot less about how great we are and how cute our kids are but more about how great our God is. So far, so good and we’re enjoying every moment.
Post Jam: I Get to be the One by JJ Heller
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