… thirty seven

[ t h i r t y – s e v e n ]

Before 2019 ended, the idea that my life was about to change could be felt.

Changes were made that I’d known for a while needed to be happen…….. but after major conviction, taking inventory of the past, & processing my feelings and what I’d like for my/my family’s future to looked like helped me to truly see what I’d been missing before:

Nothing is better than Jesus in a very real way.

That sounds super Jesus freakish & you probably rolled your eyes, probably wondering as a Christian why I’m just getting that, but as much as I love/d Jesus, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that he truly is everything that I need. I knew that, but never put everything down for him. This lightbulb… that came through a deeper, closer relationship with God, has completely changed behavior. Not rules, not someone saying “You should…” or “You can’t”, but being so close to God that anything that separated me from him hurt me.

A few things that I recognized…

Approval – his alone matters. periodt.

Acceptance – no matter what, when, or why he will forever search for me & welcome me, desire to be in relationship with me and be open to it even though I sin.

Comfort – He is the God of ALL comfort. Not cinnamon rolls, Chick-fil-a, wine or whiskey, or companionship. Just Jesus and once he is the first and only source of comfort, I won’t over prioritize, over value, or sacrifice who I am or standards to feel “better”.

Support – he gives wisdom in abundance if we ask, he leads us, he protects us, comforts, & is the safest, most intimate space we could ever ask for.

We truly need nothing else, but Him. And the most amazing thing is we often feel (or I quietly felt) that I’d be missing out on something if I truly gave everything up for him, if I truly lived sacrificially. I doubted and didn’t fully trust even though I knew that everything good comes from him, that there is no lack in him, that he withholds no good thing from us …… I was afraid that I’d be missing out on something. Ultimately something celebrated by culture (which likely contradicted The Word), something that would result in loneliness (which I was already feeling), or whatever I felt I needed. If everything I need is truly found in Him…… he is the ultimate source and then from trusting Him will come the very things I need except better. If I’m trying to fill a space based on my thoughts & feelings, I will lose every single time and still end up empty. Those choices will be fueled by fear, thoughts of lack, trauma, selfishness, sin, and cultural “goals” that will have me chasing after something that will never truly satisfy me.

I might be the only one whose lightbulb is just.now. clicking but I am so thankful it is. At nearly 40… feeling too late, too old, too weighted down with  life’s responsibilities… regardless of the feels, God is so so so good and nothing compares to Him.

2020 began with a whole new outlook on my Plexus business, relationship perspectives and goals, motherhood goals, career moves, & just how I wanted each day to look. The perspective I have is that everyday literally is going to create and lead to a week that turns into a month that turns into a year. If I.. when I focus on sacrificing and submitting day to day the life I want (which is the life the Lord has for me) will flow.

And one of the first things I knew I needed to change was the fact that I did nothing for myself in 2019. Nothing to very little for myself. Very little. I hardly hung out with my friends, didn’t go to any movies (which I love to do, until the end of the year), and was completely overwhelmed & growing resentful at what my days looked like. I couldn’t be the mama, friend, person, writer, speaker, provider, ministry partner, business builder I needed to be because I empty. Running on empty. fumes. and clawing to stay on my feet. It was exhausting and another year that way wouldn’t end well.

So, I committed to being more social – not for the sake of just being out, but truly pouring into, rebuilding, and establishing friendships and relationships that I’d neglected over the past few years….. and the last 26 days have been so much stinking fun. While I know exactly why I didn’t do it sooner, I’m wondering, ‘Why didn’t you do this sooner?’

I know the reasons I had were valid & real…… but they weren’t true. Tony Evans says that there’s a difference between truth and fact. I based decisions on facts, but not the truth. And we do it all of the time.

EX:
Mom: I can’t go, because the baby is too young.
Yea that’s a FACT, the baby is tiny….. but the truth is – you can go.
If you choose to…. choose to believe that we aren’t our kids end all and be all. Choose to believe that we can truly have a life outside of them and still be good mothers. Choose to believe that things will be fine if we aren’t losing ourselves to hold them and everyone and everything else together.

Y’all. I’m scared, no lie. Because I’m not sure. And, anyone who says walking with God in a way they’d never had before isn’t scary is.. lying. Hello, Moses, and everyone else who’d been pulled by the Lord and responded with a “Who me?” Then, you have those who came to the Lord for healing and you’ll see a few times he asked, “Do you want to be made whole?” umm.. of course, that’s why I’m here. Right? Like let’s not ask questions we already know the answer to. That’s annoying.

But, the truth is:
there are times we want something, but just not bad enough
to sacrifice and change our life for.

Not enough to truly be vulnerable for.
Not enough to stop being lazy for.
Not enough to stand up and be bold for.
Not enough to say “no” to everything else that isn’t that for.
Not enough to just do the things that need to be done for.

So…. again… do you want to be made whole?

So. It’s tough. And, scary.
Already 26 days in.
But, I believe deeply that while I have no idea what they heck is going to happen, I know that every day (a hundred times a day), I lay every fear that crops up, every desire, every choice, every opportunity, every move at the cross. And I trust that God heard me. Like the enslaved Israelites tears, fears, and desires – “…their cries rose up to God. God heard their groaning…” (Genesis 2:23-24) and because I am trusting the Lord and truly delighting myself in Him….. seriously enjoying worshipping, praying, reading the Word, talking throughout the day, I trust the promise of Psalm 21:2 that says the Lord will “give him his heart’s desire; you have withheld nothing he requested.”

And, my response before, during, and after is praise.
Not because I have what I asked for or even that it’s promised to me and I have the faith that I will receive it, but because I love God. And, God loves me and is worthy of my praise….. every other reason is extra.
cherries and whip cream and sprinkles on top.

Just like the children of Isreal were God’s special possession, I am, too.
Just as they needed him for deliverance, I do, too.
Just like they needed him for provision, I do, too.
Just like they messed up, I do, too.
And, he still heard them.
He still welcomed them back.
He didn’t stop being their God.
He didn’t stop being their provider.
He didn’t stop leading them.
He didn’t stop being who he was.

While the goal isn’t 40 years of learning while wandering….
I’m prayerfully grasping what they continued to miss:
 He is everything that we need.

And, if they had allowed him to be that everything all the time – even when they were afraid, even when they didn’t know, even when they felt alone – they would have experienced God in a way they never had before and would have seen what he promised and had stored up for them.

Lastly,
I posted on Instagram a few days ago that
we often trust that God will, but doubt that he is.
(At least I do… could be solo on that one.)
Doubt that in this situation right now, God is creating & establishing it.
Doubt that this situation right now is what we have been praying for.
Doubt that this could really be it.
Doubt that the first step in the plan, the steps we have to work hard to complete and sacrifice to accomplish, really will lead us there.

So we quit. We allow fear and “wisdom” and comforts of life and habits of our comfort zones to keep us from what God has for us.

Not this year.

And, because I really want a lobster & bacon grilled cheese sandwich for dinner tonight…. I’m going to get up and go to the store for Havarti cheese. Yes, one item. Because I want it that badly.

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… until he moves

One thing I’m definitely not good at it is waiting…. but I’ve gotten a whole lot better. Like leaps and bounds better at waiting and it’s still an area I am working to improve in. No matter how long or short the wait, I want to wait well. Even though it’s hard.

Waiting well is a skill I believe the Lord has been honing in me for quite a while…. and while it’s hard, I appreciate it so much. Almost to the point of tears. How we wait speaks greatly to how much we trust the one we’re waiting on… much more, I believe, than what we’re excited about, what we’re anticipating, and what we need.

Waiting well doesn’t look like busy-ing yourself but still watching the clock.
Waiting well doesn’t look like rolling your eyes & blowing air everytime “something” happens but isn’t what we’re waiting for. (You know how we do when we’re waiting for that phone call or text.)
Waiting well doesn’t mean you completely push your desires to the back of your mind as if you have forgetten about it, but it’s still very much at the forefront.

It looks like trust. Trust looks like patience. Patience looks like discipline and dependence.

When I tell or ask my girls to wait… they have no idea how long it’s going to last. And, honestly, I don’t always either. But, I do know that I don’t expect them to try and go behind my back and do it themselves. My expectation isn’t for them to grumble and whine. Or pick fights between each other. It definitely isn’t to get into something else they have no business getting into simply because I’m ‘taking too long’.

I expect them to obey while they wait.
I expect them to exercise some discipline.
To busy themselves doing what they know they can or should be doing.
I definitely wouldn’t be mad if they decided to clean up their toys.
Or just patiently wait with me.

But trying to do what they’re waiting for me to do can cause a mess. Usually causes a mess.
Going ahead of me while I’m preparing so that we can move on together causes a mess and something extra that I have to clean up, they get in trouble for, and our fun experience isn’t so fun anymore…. and they may have missed out on a fun opportunity……… picking up what I’m putting down?

We are children, trusting an all knowing Father. A father who plans really well. One who has incredible things for us that he promises to give. One who has incredible Earthly & Heavenly rewards for our obedience…. and he will do what he said. At the right time. He doesn’t forget about us. He doesn’t make empty promises. What he has for us is worth the wait.

I’ve been praying for two things, two areas specifically for a year. Loosely for much longer than that. And, it’s hard. There have been times I didn’t wait well. But, I absolutely see the benefit it obedience during the wait. Even in areas that aren’t directly connected. There is benefit in learning to quietly seek God’s hand. To continue asking and knocking with trust, believing that he is working all things together for us. I haven’t seen what I’m looking for yet. Haven’t held what I’m trusting God for. But, I know he hears me. I know he is moving. I know that what I’m obeying by asking for what I need and the desires of my heart.

Questions I like to ask in wait:
What do you want me to do right now?
What do you want me to learn?
Where do you want me to grow?

…. asking questions that will allow the Lord to open my eyes and mind up to what he needs from me is definitely a way to wait well. A way to prepare us for what we’re asking for.
A way to learn more about our Father and his plan for our lives.

But, beyond asking… doing and moving as he leads. Obeying while we wait. Trusting where he is guiding us. Won’t always make sense. May seem harder than what we think we can handle. Or seemingly more inconvenient than what I really want to deal with. Will likely take some bravery and courage, some stepping out on faith, some imagination. and, support.
Discipline. Determination. Commitment. Dependance.

But whatever you need… in whatever capacity you need it… whenever you need it… the Lord will provide it.

…….. Until he moves.

Until then, we wait.

Until then, we trust.

Until then, we obey.

Until then, we serve.

We grow.

We learn.

We lean into his Word.

We pray.

We praise.

We thank.

We enjoy his presence.

We enjoy our family.

We give.

We pray.

We believe his promises.

And, don’t let up until he blesses us.

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f i v e

Can y’all believe this?! These people are five years old!

This space was birthed because of them.
(Sort of.)

I started writing in this space in 2011 to keep my family and close friends in the loop of my & then husband’s journey through infertility. With all of the doctor & specialist appointments it was annoying to make all the phone calls and send the texts…… so I started writing.

 Created a blog and titled it something that has colored the last eight years of my life.

GROWTH. Very public, very ‘come alongside me’. Journey though all life’s hard shit with me. I never thought it would become what is has. Ever. Your emails, messages, comments, and support has been NUTS. Because you’ve been going through the same exact things. And, felt alone. Felt afraid. Felt isolated. Confused. All the things that I was feeling, but we got to do it together. It’s been nice.

Three years of writing through the ups and downs of fertility treatments and adoptions.
Three years of sharing the highs, lows, disappointments, fears, & frustrations.
Three years of learning about character of God, how to trust Him.
Three years of fighting through a maturation of my faith I KNOW
wouldn’t have come unless we took the hard, rocky route.

The one that forced you to face God.
And, then…. boom.

At the point I became aware of the unraveling of my marriage, I find out I’m expecting.

More hard and rocky.
Insanely unbelievable hard and rocky.

Timing made no sense.

Then, five years ago, after 9 days in the hospital on bed rest, I woke up to a second consecutive high blood pressure reading at 36 weeks and was prepped to deliver these sweet girls by a c-section.
The last five years haven’t been easy.

But, again …. the Lord is answering prayers still.

He is faithful.
He is love.
He is kindness.
He is mercy.
He is grace.
He is hope and strength.
Full of joy and comfort.

They are and are becoming everything that I have prayed for. They are kind and funny. Smart and helpful. They’re thinkers and compassionate. They love God big and love singing worship songs and praying. They love to read. They’re cuddlers and wonderful big sisters.

Even in the midst of chaos & hardship God is still faithful and good.

Their story, these miracle blessings came at the worst time in my eyes but even still the Lord has been so good. We are not able to control the climate, we can’t control the circumstances. However, we can trust that whatever God allows no matter when he allows it, he will carry us, grace is through it.

There are times I wonder why God allowed such incredible blessings to come in the middle of such drama. Why after all of the craaaaaazy, things couldn’t level out and be fine… because OMG answered prayers! Come on!!! This is glorifying to you, right?!

But, y’all. THIS IS.

And, I mean….. that would have been, too, right? Peace and marital restoration after crazy. For sure. Maybe. Who knows. But what I do know is that this life I’m living right now has put me face to face with God and I love it. I love his Word, I love HIM, I love watching him move in my life and be & so all the things I’m asking & needing him to be & so. Trusting God “though you can’t trace Him” as my Pastor says, is hard but so so so good.

Their life is like a time stamp of sorts. Marking not only evidence of the faithfulness of God, but so much newness. Five plus years of this….. growing and maturing with and because of these incredible little girls.

Five years of watching them seemingly never have enough time to
play and chat and sing together.
Five years of laughing at their silliness and jokes.
Five years of milestones, growth, change, challenges, and learning.
Five years of watching two little people who came at the most
inconvenient time make such a huge impact on so many people.

Two little girls who are evidence of the impossible. Two little girls who have, by their very existence, driven me closer to the Lord and been such catalyst for out-of-comfort-zone living.

I can’t (well, I could but won’t) celebrate them without honoring how gracious God has been. If you don’t truly know, it’s likely hard to understand how intertwined so much of this day, my girls, & their birthday is to completely changing our life and faith in God. The fact that they are here, my pregnancy was as healthy & physically/medically stress free as it was, and we have made it five years is a reminder of what and why I believe what I do and why my faith is as unshakable as it is.

God truly gives us the desires of our hearts.
Truly answers prayers.
Has his hand on our lives as he lifts up our heads, as he covers us with grace.

I was still crying out to God for AN answer when TWO were already growing in my belly.

A celebration of these girls cannot be unattached from worship, separated from the acknowledgment of how faithful God is.

We prayed them here. Praised God when we got that positive pregnancy test. Praised him when they got here and we’re going to do the same exact thing every single year.

PUBLICLY UNASHAMED.

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